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  1. We want to ensure that converting from your existing community platform to ours is as seamless as possible. While we do have a migration service available where we take care of everything for you, we do also offer a DIY option. We took some time to overhaul the conversion process for those opting to convert using our free tools. Ready to convert? So you've just purchased your first copy of Invision Community, and you're ready to convert your existing site over from another software package. Great! We're glad you've made the decision to take your community to the next level! You've already checked out our Migrations page, confirmed the software you wish to convert from is supported, and you're confident in your ability to work through the process. You install the Converters package and you're ready to go. Lets get started! We have overhauled the converters to simplify the process. Beginning with 4.4, you will take the following steps to convert from another software package: Rather than choose the application you wish to convert first, you will now choose what software you are converting from, which is a much more logical start to a conversion. Next, you will supply the database details for your source database (the database you wish to convert into your new Invision Community). Then, you will see a list of all applications that can be converted for the software package you are converting from. If any applications cannot be converted (perhaps because you were not previously using the corresponding application in your source software), a message will be shown indicating there is nothing to convert. If any steps require additional configuration, you will be able to specify those details here. And finally, when you submit that form - that's it! You're done, and you can sit back and let the conversion process on its own. Each step for each application will be completed automatically, and the conversion will be finalized automatically at the end. A progress bar will be shown, along with a textual indicator that outlines exactly what is being converted. What does it look like? conversion.mp4 Here's a quick video to illustrate the new conversion process. The system even remembers where you were at and automatically picks back up where you left off. Closing your browser, losing internet connectivity, or some other unforeseen issue won't stop you dead in your tracks and force you to start all over again. We hope that these updates make it even easier to switch from another community platform. View the full article
  2. I'm sure that most reading this blog are running an up-to-date Invision Community and enjoying all the benefits of a modern community platform. Little things that get taken for granted now, like being able to view your community on a mobile phone without pinching and zooming just to read a few posts and having multiple automated tools to deal with community toxicity and spam. However, a little wander around the web soon uncovers some really old forum systems still somehow creaking along. Amazingly, most of these communities are still used daily, often with millions of posts in the archives. It might be tempting to ask why keep upgrading and investing in new versions of the software? After all, if the community is still running just fine and getting daily visitors, then it's ok to do nothing, right? But there is a hidden cost in doing nothing. Security This is the main one for me. Old platforms often have several published security vulnerabilities. Often these vulnerabilities are exploited by scripts that are shared around hacker communities. This means exploiting a website running an old version of a forum system is as simple as running a script and pointing it at your site. Older forums are also less sophisticated. They rely on unsafe hashing methods to store passwords and lack vital features like two-factor authentication. Also, consider that the server environment has to be maintained with out of date PHP and MySQL versions. It's a recipe for disaster. Could your community survive a major exploit where data is downloaded into the hands of a hacker? The cost could be fatal to your community. Declining engagement Even the most ardent of fans on your community will eventually tire of struggling to access your site on mobile devices. I think back to 2002 when we created the first version of our software. We only had to focus on how it looked on a computer, so naturally, that influenced the design of the forum. It's not so simple now. More and more of us are using mobile phones to access the internet. A recent statistic showed that mobile internet access outstrips desktop use 2 to 1; and for some countries, mobile internet access is almost the only way people get online. It's just a matter of time before new members stop registering and engagement tails off. Competition At the end of 2018, there were 1.8 billion websites (I Googled it). The competition for attention has never been as fierce. Your community may be the go-to place for your niche, but what if another community popped up running the latest version of a platform with all the features your members have been desperately asking for? It may not take long until there is a massive drain from your community. I'm sure there's a dozen reasons to make sure you're always re-investing in your community by upgrading to a modern platform. This blog merely scratches the surface. For those of you that do invest and upgrade? You reap the benefits daily by ensuring you are doing the very best for your community by keeping it secure and accessible for most. If you are on an older platform, now is the time to put some serious thought into making the move to something better. I put together a little downloadable guide that might help too. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. View the full article
  3. The Internet is a fierce battleground for users, clicks, attention, and audience. Competition surrounds your community from all angles and new threats constantly emerge. The Internet has leveled the playing field for local businesses, solopreneurs, and small organizations which means more people than ever are competing for users. Online communities are no different, and as companies realize the growing power of communities, you too may face more challenges. Online communities are growing faster than ever: IDC predicts worldwide online communities market to grow to $1.2 billion in 2019 According to research by Leader Networks, twenty-three percent of marketers who have online communities indicate that the size of their communities doubled in the past year. How is your community competing against your competitors? Is your community growing or stagnating relative to your competitors? In this blog post, we identify core concepts of competitive strategy that stretch from traditional theory to unique methods of winning for communities. Theory of Competition The broadly-accepted understanding of competition in the business world rests on the seminal work by Professor Michael Porter, when he mapped out the origins of competitive forces in his 1979 book “How Competitive Forces Shape Strategy.” Fundamentally, all strategies for Porter distill into two basic options: Build on what you already do, or do something no one else can do. You can compete by doing what everyone else is doing but be more efficient, such as offering higher quality content, a better user experience, or having a lower price of member acquisition. Or, you can expand the pie by forging a new position in the marketplace, such as staking out an untapped niche or developing a unique service. What’s your current competitive strategy: be better at what you’re already doing and your competitors, or to do something completely new? Emerging Theories A new strategy on competition is emerging that is just as potent as Porter’s competitive forces. It’s especially relevant for online communities in the digital age: reacting opportunistically to emerging possibilities. Discovery-driven planning is the field’s most recent thinking. It was introduced 20 years ago in works like Tim Luehrman’s “Strategy as a Portfolio of Real Options” that talked about flexibility as a strategy. The idea was also introduced in the more recent “Stop Making Plans: Start Making Decisions” by Michael Mankins and Richard Steel, which argued for continuous strategic planning cycles. Online communities are impacted by – and can seize advantage of – fluctuating factors: Technical advances and digital disruptions Disruptions in your industry The faster you react to market or technological change, the greater your advantage will become over time. What disruption recently impacted your industry or niche? How can you capitalize on the opportunity? Application to Online Communities Online communities are at an especially powerful intersection of customers, superusers, industry experts, and brand representatives. By assembling a broad mix of users, you gain a source of competitive knowledge and crowd wisdom unmatched by traditional businesses. Market intelligence – Harness the power of crowds by letting your members feed you real-time market intelligence on the industry, market trends, and competitors. Use technology to your advantage – Become an expert on utilizing your Invision platform as a technological advantage, whether you’re increasing visitor registrations with Post Before Registering, adding in store filters in Commerce, or enabling the application manifest settings for faster access on smartphones. Collaborative ideation – Collaborate with users early in the design process to create services or products that are highly-differentiated. Co-Creation – Channel your user’s expertise, enthusiasm, and product knowledge into co-created content such as tutorials, support answers, industry news, contests, and more. Brand Ambassadors – Turn your membership’s most passionate users into brand ambassadors to provide outreach and personalized connections. Conclusion Communities are challenged and tested every day by a multitude of competitors that compete for users. Competition is fierce, and as the web continues to proliferate and level the playing field, competition will only get stronger. It’s no longer enough to host a general discussion forum. Successful communities envision a clear competitive strategy. Although competition is fierce, there are winners on the Internet who consistently gain market share. The winners are those who understand the fundamental drivers of competition: to create sustainable advantages over their competitors, to offer unique services and experiences, and to react opportunistically. They also leverage all facets of their community for maximum value. Join me in 2019 in defining your competitive strategy and becoming a Community of Excellence. - Joel R Joel R is a mystery wrapped inside an enigma. When he's not running his own successful community, he's peppering Invision Community's private Slack channel with his feedback, community management experience and increasingly outrageous demands (everything is true except the last part). View the full article
  4. One of the first things I do when visiting a site that I know has a community is to try and find it. More often than not, it's hidden away in the footer links or buried in several sub-menus and labelled something relatively obscure like "Fans" or "Support". This is a massive lost opportunity! We all know that social proof is incredibly important when making a purchasing decision. When I buy something on Amazon or book a holiday, the first thing I do is scour the reviews. Are the reviews mostly positive? What did other people think about the product after receiving it? I might see two almost identical products and the reviews, not the price that'll always sway me. It's that urge to herd to keep safe at play. So why bury all that out of the way? Your community should be full of fantastic social proof — hundreds of customers using your product and creating a buzz. Is it a fear of criticism? We all have had bad experiences with clients who are less than rational with feedback, but that's OK. The Harry Potter series of books are beloved by millions, made J.K Rowling a fortune, made a celebrated movie series and opened up several themed attractions which are always busy. Yet, there are a significant number of 1-star reviews on Amazon. Not everyone will get you or your business. You always have the opportunity to reply and explain your side, and you are always in control with moderation tools. Let's face it; if you are to handle negative feedback, it's better to manage it on your community than see it all over social media, Google reviews and review sites like TripAdvisor. Maybe you're a little embarrassed because the community platform is old and doesn't match your branding. If that's the case, then come and talk to us! We specialise in migrating communities from legacy platforms with poor mobile support. We offer brand matching services too. Maybe it's just that you're unsure of what to do with your community. I get that too. It can be hard to know how it fits in with your brand. I'm happy to help there also. Feel free to drop a comment below. Our product has several ways to pull content from the community and feature it on your site. We've helped big brands like LEGO®, Sega, Warner Bros. and more nurture a prosperous community that enhances their business. The bottom line is that a well manage community should be central to your brand and website. Hiding it among the "Privacy Policy" links is a huge missed opportunity. - Matt View the full article
  5. Release parties at Invision Community are a fairly tame affair. You'd think after months of planning, coding and testing we'd want to cut loose and dance the night away. The reality is we send each other a few amusing GIFs in Slack and then wait for support tickets to start appearing while our developers crack their knuckles and prepare for bug reports to be filed. It's a nightmare trying to get a photo of our team, so here's a stock image. Just pretend it's us. That's me looking at a report of how much code Mark Wade has refused during reviews I did manage to find five minutes to ask the team what their favourite feature of 4.4 was. Here's what they said. Marc S Support, Guides and Keen Cyclist @Marc Stridgen I'm going to go with 'Post before registering', because it allows for more effective onboarding of new members on your site. People are much more likely to register after just having written a topic, then they are if they have to register before getting started. It also gives you the opportunity to see how many people are not actually registering, and maybe address that on the site. Ryan Developer, T3 support and reluctant AWS wrangler @Ryan Ashbrook My favorite 4.4 feature is the progressive web app settings. I now have our site pinned to my phones home screen for quick access, and use our site on mobile even more now that I can just hit the icon to pull up our site. Mark H Support, Beta Tester and remembers this when it was fields @Mark H While this isn’t “a” favorite feature, I most like the steady small improvements to Gallery in the 4.x series. Photography-centric sites should especially like the additions to extended EXIF data in 4.4 so that authors can provide the most detail about their submitted photos…. where it was taken, what camera, which lens, shutter speed and aperture, etc. Daniel Developer, T2 support and airport security fan @Daniel F As IPS4 consumer, I'm going to say that Lazy Loading and mobile create menu are my favorite enhancement. As community owner, I'm most excited about post before register and email advertisements.. That's going to bring the $$$ Brandon Developer, Enterprise Support and proud of his thorough code reviews @bfarber My favorite change in 4.4 (besides the overall performance improvements, as I'm a geek for that sort of thing) is the overhauled Conversion experience (which we haven't even blogged about). We took converters and flipped them on their head for 4.4, so you now choose what software you want to convert from, what applications from that software you want to convert, fill in any required details, and the conversion process just launches and runs from beginning to end right then and there. You no longer need to convert each application and each type of data within each application individually, making for an easier and overall smoother experience. Stuart Developer, Conversion Specialist and PC enthusiast @Stuart Silvester This is actually hard to answer than it seems, there are so many great changes and features in 4.4. The combined performance improvements including HTTP/2 Push, More aggressive caching, SVG letter photos, lazy loading are definitely some of my favourites. After all, time is money. (A smaller favourite is the browser notification prompt change, especially with visiting as many customer sites as I do in Tier 2). Jim Support, Beta Tester and suspiciously quiet in staff chat @Jim M The communities I run are about cars and very heavily image based. Whether it's "I have an issue" or simple sharing of car builds, topics get image heavy very quickly and doing anything to improve moving throughout that topic more quickly is going to go far. I feel a lot of communities can relate and why lazy load of images is my favorite 4.4 feature. Jennifer Designer, Enterprise Theme Specialist, owner of several super powers @Jennifer M There are so many changes with 4.4 it's actually really hard to choose just one change that is my absolutely favorite. I would probably say a lot of the more micro features are my favorites. Colored usernames everywhere, lazy load for images, improved notifications experience, text or URLs for announcements, reordering of club tabs, ability to hide widgets/blocks from mobile etc. They are all quality of life improvements that I love and appreciate on so many levels. We're Steve Ballmer levels of excited about 4.4. It looks like Rikki's lazy loading is a clear winner. I'm not surprised, it's a real boost for page speed and reduces hosting costs. Personally I'm a fan of the progressive web app settings which, like Ryan, enables me to have our community on my phone's home page. Let us know what your favourites are below! View the full article
  6. We're thrilled to announce that Invision Community 4.4 is available to download now. After months of development, over 1650 separate code commits and quite a few mugs of questionable coffee you can now get your hands on the beta release from the client centre. Not our office Invision Community 4.4 brings numerous new features, over 450 bug fixes and a lot of refinement. We've been talking about the highlights since September on our blog. Here's a recap of all that we've added. We'd love to know which is your favourite feature so far! Drop a line below and let us know! View the full article
  7. We attach a significant amount of personally identifiable data to our social media profiles daily. I regularly use social media to share photos of my kids and holidays. I post my personal thoughts on products I've used and TV shows I've watched. I'm even tagged in location-based check-ins. It's all there in my news feed for anyone to see. I'm not alone. More and more of us live our lives through the prism of social media. We share things we love, things we loathe and things that make us laugh. With just a few clicks, you can discover a lot of information about a person. More often than not, you can see where they work, where they live and what school they went to. Scrolling through their timeline often reveals their stance on hot topics such as gun control, the current President and other recent headline news items. This information follows you when you join a Facebook Group. Your past Tweets are always available to trawl through. Indeed, there may be some groups that you decide you cannot post in as people would be able to identify you. This is particularly true for stigmatised conditions, such as financial help, illness and mental health. After all, if you were seeking help with a large amount of debt or managing an embarrassing medical condition, you wouldn't feel comfortable knowing that work colleagues, friends and family could read your posts. The benefit of anonymity for stigmatised topics "Forums can all offer some initial anonymity, a community, and information that geographically proximate others may not have. What stigma-related forums uniquely offer is that the anonymity protects those who are not ready to be publicly associated with sensitive topics; the community helps to neutralise the “spoilage” of identity that accompanies stigma." (1) Unlike social media where reams of personal data is willingly added, and which can identify you to other online users, forums allow you to add as much information as you are comfortable with. Support communities for mental health and illness flourish using forums for this reason. An individual may feel devalued in society and unwilling to share their condition over social media. "Nowadays people can both avoid and proactively cope with this devaluation by turning to online forums populated by others who share the same devalued group membership." (1) Forums offer a safe space for these individuals to seek and receive support from others without disclosing large amounts of identifiable data. Allowing a level of anonymity encourages more people to register and over time, they will develop ties with other users. For an individual with a stigmatized condition, a forum may be a real life-line in coping with the condition as face-to-face support is often limited. Adrial Dale, who owns Herpes Opportunity agrees. "In order for us to truly be able to work through the shame that stigma can trigger, it's absolutely vital for us to feel safe to open up and tell all. Through opening up, we not only get to share with an understanding and compassionate community (which normalizes our shared experiences), but we're also able to begin to release what has felt like our own solitary burden to bear. Then a magical thing can happen ... an alchemical process that transforms shame into an opportunity for connection. An opportunity for us to be accepted for who we are *behind* the thick wall of shame. And ultimately, an opportunity to accept ourselves. Especially in these days of the internet not feeling so private (even in places where it absolutely should be), having true privacy and anonymity is paramount for communities like Herpes Opportunity. Anything other than that is grounds for paranoia and holding back from sharing ourselves. (In fact, just the other day someone messaged me asking "Are private messages really private?") Fear can lead to closing ourselves off, which can lead to isolation and paranoia, which can lead to a downward spiral of self-loathing and depression. On the other hand, safety, connection and compassion creates an an okayness with the nitty-grittiness of what it means to be human." The benefit of expressing a new identity "People may strategically express identities when they think they will not be punished, and/or connect them to an audience that is valued." (1) It is arguably true that not so many years ago, tech-related communities were very much male-dominated, with female contributions valued less. Forums allow a way to create a new identity that is either gender-neutral thus allowing the male users to assume a gender, or overtly male to ensure their contributions are evaluated on merit, and not with any gender bias. Christopher Marks who owns Nano-Reef has seen this first hand. "During a discussion with a women’s group in our generally male dominant hobby, a number of women had expressed the benefit of having an anonymous username and profile when asking for help and advice on forums, they receive equal help without the unfortunate gender bias or belittling that can sometimes happen in real life when seeking the same help in person." Invision Community's Jennifer has also experience of this on her own community; RPG Initiative. "RPG Initiative is a community for all roleplayers. We focus on all text-based roleplaying forms that are hosted on the internet. We encourage roleplayers to find each other, discuss roleplay and grow as collaborative writers here at the Initiative in a safe environment." Jennifer relies on, and encourages anonymity. She knows that because her site is predominately female, some female users identify as male to increase the chances of getting others to collaborate with them. "Male players are rare, in fact, I recently ran a poll on my site and of those that responded to it less than 15% of them are male (or identify as such). So this gets them more attention and in turn, more people that want to write with them." Jennifer explains how anonymity is critical to her site's growth. "Anonymity is a difficult thing to accomplish in a small niche like mine, but it's sort of like a small town where everyone knows everyone, and they likely know all of your secrets. So enforcing rules to preserve anonymity is really important to my community and me. This includes prohibiting the "naming of names" or the "site" that the drama is coming from when seeking for advice or help. This doesn't negate that people may know the existing situation or people involved because they are also involved or know some of the people involved, but it helps cut down on the drama and the spread of negativity and false information about people." With a forum community, you can truly be who you want to be. This is not so with social media where others can create bias based on your gender, looks or topical preferences. Together, together "In her early work, Turkle argued that the internet provided myriad positive opportunities for self-transformation, but more recently, she argues that the explosion in social media options has led us to develop superficial, emotionally lazy but instantly available virtual relationships." (1) It's hard to argue against this statement when you consider the content that predominates social media. And often an endless stream of self-focused content. "Indeed, we provide clear evidence that online forums afford users a way of being genuinely “together, together”, as opposed to what Turkle calls “alone together.”(1) The bottom line is that it has been proven that allowing a degree on anonymity increases engagement across all niches, but especially those that are built to support those with stigmatised conditions. These forums have a greater sense of community and depth than those built on social media. When you allow your members to take back control of their privacy, you are empowering them to make decisions about what to share. Given how eroded our privacy is in our modern always-connected world, this is a precious gift. If you are looking to create a new community then consider this before choosing your community platform. References: 1: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S074756321500268X 2: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10410236.2017.1339370 View the full article
  8. It's a new year, and a new beginning. And the possibilities are endless for you and your community. It’s an exciting time to be leading an online community with Invision Community - whether you’re starting out or switching over - and the new year is the perfect opportunity to start anew. How are you celebrating the new year with your community? What are your community goals for 2019? To kick off the new year, I’ve outlined guidance for several types of communities, whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking to take your community to the next level. New Community Are you a new community or looking to start one? You’re in the best position because you have a blank slate and everything is possible. Invest in a formative experience during your first year of defining your community’s purpose. What are your community’s mission, goals, and objectives? What is your competitive advantage against other similar communities or are you developing a new niche? How are you going to develop content programming, site features, or digital services in support of that advantage? What is your marketing plan to attract new users? Who is your core base of users, and what’s your plan to cultivate your first set of superusers? What is your budget to create a sustainable plan for hosting? Interest Community Are you a hobbyist with an established community of passion? Your community is a labor of love for you, and while it can feel like you’re pouring your heart and soul into it on a daily basis, it can be refreshing to take a step back and take stock of your community’s purpose, engagement goals, and how you want to lead in 2019 through fresh eyes. What’s your plan to create more emotionally-driven storytelling in your community? How are you going to deepen your tribal connection to users and between users? How can you incorporate member feedback into your New Year’s resolutions through polls, surveys, and member insights? How are you building a scalable community that leverages automation, staff, and user generated content to achieve your objectives? What are your engagement metrics year over year for 2018, and what is your projection for 2019 metrics like active members, online activity, best answers, and other user targets? How are you going to achieve those engagement metrics through initiatives like new pathways for engagement or enhanced training for staff? Enterprise Are you a brand community that’s part of a parent organization? Your organization probably already understands the value of investing in an online community, but rest assured that you’re in good company. In the 50th Anniversary report by the research firm IDC, it’s estimated that 80% of all Fortune 5000 companies will host an online community by 2020. As a community manager, you’ve probably covered all the basics such as approving your community’s budget for the new year, provided performance reviews of your staff, and mapped out your community strategy to align with organizational goals. Nevertheless, there are always more opportunities to increase your community’s prominence: What new early-stage relationships do you want to cultivate with employees, suppliers, vendors or partners? How can you create more networking touch points between your community and key constituencies to deliver community-driven solutions? How can you present your community’s data to stakeholders in new ways for better insight? How can you vest key stakeholders into community decisions and let them be a rewarding part of the conversation? What growth areas are happening within the organization, and how can you make the community be an integral part of its delivery? My personal New Year’s resolution is to develop my website into a Community of Excellence. This involves incorporating thought leadership from professional community management resources, making data-driven decisions, and formalizing a growth plan based on best practices. I hope you’ll join me in a year-long journey of community management as we conceptualize, learn, and discuss how to co-build Communities of Excellence. It’s a new year of endless opportunities to drive new growth and excellence for our members and communities. What are your community goals for 2019? Share in the comments below or in the exclusive Client Lounge in the Invision Community forums, so we can cheer each other on, check-in periodically, and provide peer mentorship for each other. Join me in a Year of Community. - Joel R Joel R is a mystery wrapped inside an enigma. When he's not running his own successful community, he's peppering Invision Community's private Slack channel with his feedback, community management experience and increasingly outrageous demands (everything is true except the last part). View the full article
  9. Do you want to take our latest release for a test drive? You already are! We've upgraded our own community for wider testing. A big focus has been on page speed, so you will notice that our community is significantly faster that it was on 4.3 If you need a recap of what was added, take a look at our product updates blog which takes you through the highlights. As this is a pre-beta release, expect some funkiness as we scurry around and tidy up our custom theme wrapper and other areas as we spot them. If you you find a bug, we'd love for you to report it with as much detail as you can muster in the bug report area. We'd love to know what you think, let us know below. View the full article
  10. Braintree is a payment gateway provided by PayPal which provides some great additional features for PayPal transactions including a significantly improved recurring payments model. We are delighted to be bringing full support for Braintree for Commerce in Invision Community 4.4. What is Braintree? Braintree is a payment gateway provided by PayPal which supports taking payments by credit cards (including Apple Pay and Google Pay) and Venmo as well as PayPal, providing a good option for communities wanting to use a single payment gateway, and also brings improved functionality for recurring PayPal transactions. For PayPal transactions, there are no additional fees and the checkout experience uses the normal PayPal experience your customers are used to. Recurring PayPal Improvements Recurring payments / Billing Agreements in PayPal have up until now been initiated by PayPal. Invision Community tells PayPal what the renewal terms of a purchase are, but then it's up to PayPal to take that payment and notify your community when it succeeds (or fails). This comes with a number of limitations and problems. It makes it difficult for you as an admin to modify an existing purchase or for the customer to upgrade/downgrade. It also means the customer has to create separate Billing Agreements for each purchase. Most significantly though, it means if there is a delay in receiving the payment (such as an expired card) it is sometimes unclear what should happen on your community's end, and how it can be resolved if/when the payment is received. Other payment gateways work the other way around. When a customer pays by card, for example, they have the option of storing their card details. Later, if they make another purchase or a renewal invoice is generated, Invision Community can tell the gateway to recharge the same card - and if it fails, allow the customer to provide an alternative payment method. This allow both you and your customers to have much greater control, and is much more reliable. Braintree resolves this by allowing customers when paying with PayPal to save their PayPal account in the same way they would save a credit card on file. When paying with PayPal, users will see a simple checkbox which, if checked, will allow future payments to be taken with PayPal automatically. Storing PayPal Accounts for Recurring Payments Other Features In addition to an improved checkout experience, our integration with Braintree supports: Taking payments by Credit Card, including 3DSecure checking and the ability for customer to store card details on file. Braintree uses a fully PCI-compliant method of taking card details in a way that ensures the card information never reaches your server. Apple Pay and Google Pay Venmo, which also allows storing accounts in the same way as PayPal accounts. Offering PayPal Credit Handling chargebacks/disputes Support for Braintree's Advanced Fraud Tools A Disputed PayPal Transaction Existing Setups and Upgrading The existing PayPal gateway will continue to be available for basic PayPal integration, and your existing set up will continue to work exactly as it does now after upgrading. If you are using PayPal, especially if you are using Billing Agreements, we strongly recommend switching to Braintree after upgrading. While it isn't possible to convert existing Billing Agreements, you can allow existing ones to continue to work and use Braintree for new purchases. Please note that while existing setups will work fine, from 4.4 it will no longer be possible to set up a new PayPal method with either Billing Agreements, or to take payments by card, as PayPal has deprecated the API this was using in favour of Braintree and it can no longer be enabled on new accounts. As mentioned though, this does not affect any existing setups, which, if you do not switch to Braintree, will continue to work as they do now. This blog is about our upcoming release Invision Community 4.4. View the full article
  11. A successful community manager is a combination of so many things. Being a successful community manager demands that you be a multi-faceted person and to apply a dynamic personality to a position that’s always in flux. You’re the authorized ambassador of your organization; you’re the chief moderator who sets and enforces community guidelines; and you’re the counselor and friend to all of your peers in the community. You may also be the one who updates your community suite, approves members, and manages the moderator team. Oh, and you find time to be the social media coordinator, digital designer-in-training, and all-around fantastic human being. You wear many hats and it can be challenging to juggle all of those hats. So what do you do? Take a breather. The good news is that you don’t have to wear all the hats, all the time. My head used to spin at the sheer amount of work that I faced as a solo community manager - especially when my community first started out – and I didn’t have a disciplined approach to community management. I didn’t even know what hats to wear! Over time, I’ve learned that there are specific ‘hats’ to community management. The best way to figure out which hats to juggle? Determine which hats are most important to you, which hats to wear for a specific goal, and which ones to swap out as your needs change. Create the change you believe in by wearing the right hat. Evangelist No matter the niche or industry, you should be a self-professed evangelist who is passionate and always learning about the topic. This personal interest will shine over time with your expertise in helping other users, bringing in new members with your helpful knowledge, and focusing discussion to evolving trends. You’re trusted as a leading voice of the community and your organization, and you can use your expertise to spread the positive impact of your organization’s mission. User Advocate You’re passionate about your users because you understand that the beating heart of your community is the valuable feedback, peer support, and testimonials that your users provide. You’re a champion of nurturing a positive and supportive community that’s aligned with your organizations’ goals. Customer service is a vital component to your team’s community outreach. Digital Marketer An effective community manager will engage people, even outside of the community. This means being a leading voice on external sites like blogs, partner communities, social media, industry events, and professional organizations. It extends the reach of your organization through non-traditional marketing and gives you and your community an online impact in relevant areas. Relationship Builder Part of your job is to be a networker for all the people around you and to be a bridge for authentic relationships. You want to listen to the ensuing conversations happening around your product, company, or industry, then add value and build relationships with key stakeholders both online and in-person. It’s especially important to build meaningful relationships within your organization to advocate for your organization’s mission through your community. Suite Administrator Finally, you should be an expert in Invision Community to leverage the built-in tools. Invision Community makes it easy for community managers of all technical backgrounds to get started and run successful communities. The more you learn of the Administrator and Moderator functionality, the more effective you become in supervising your community staff and driving your organization’s success. Community Management is one of the most exciting and rewarding roles in the modern web. It’s a position that’s filled with dynamism and people, and you grow yourself in ways that you never imagined. An effective community manager needs to extend herself by trying on new hats. And while some of these hats may be new to you at first, I encourage you to try all the hats and slowly develop your expertise in these new roles over time. Putting on more hats is the first step to becoming a more valuable and effective community manager. What hat do you wear today, and what hat do you want to wear tomorrow? No matter which new role you decide to embark upon, hats off to you for stepping up and growing yourself as a community manager. Joel R is a mystery wrapped inside an enigma. When he's not running his own successful community, he's peppering Invision Community's private Slack channel with his feedback, community management experience and increasingly outrageous demands (everything is true except the last part). View the full article
  12. Famously, all Maria Carey wants for Christmas, is you. This is great news if you're a Maria Carey fan. As the holiday season draws closer and our staff chat channel turns to egg nog, twinkly lights and why is wrapping so hard, we asked the question: What would you like for Christmas? Brandon With so many children, Christmas is more focused on them and the family than myself. My eldest son who started college this year just returned home for the holiday season yesterday which has been awesome. You don't realize how it's like a piece of you is missing until they're back. I guess you could call that a Christmas present for me. Also, my wife and I took a quick 2 day cruise to the Bahamas as a gift to ourselves. My children have not requested very much for Christmas this year either, so my wife and I have decided we're going to plan a trip to Disney/Orlando for some time later in 2019 as a family gift instead of focusing on a bunch of little toys the kids will quickly get bored with. The family time together is the best Christmas gift to me. Awww Mark H In truth, what I’d like for Christmas isn’t something Sanata could provide. At my age I already have most of the “things” I simply want, and the things I really *need* I already have; family and friends. But… I wouldn’t object to Santa dropping off a new gaming computer with a motherboard for an Intel core i9, an RTX 2080 Ti video card, 16 GB of RAM, and one or two NVME SSD’s. Me too Andy I’ve been trying to de-clutter my life for most of the year so hopefully I won’t get much in the way of stocking fillers and things that are fun for a few days and then pushed in a drawer. I’m not a total Scrooge though, honest. I’m really looking forward to spending time with family and friends, Christmas Day walks in the snow and coming home to a toasty warm fire and a few beers… just the simple things really. Marc S I think you get to the point with Christmas where presents become largely unimportant, and its more a time for family to get together and have fun etc. But I guess if I'm going to choose anything particular that I know I would use, I would probably go for a new iMac pro with all the extras. LOL. Seriously though, I'm happy with the break, a few drinks and games. This is what Christmas is all about. Lost a couple of family members over the past 12 month, and unfortunately none of us live forever. Brings home the realisation that there is more to life than material items, as much as we all enjoy them. Where's My Computer? Jennifer I don't really celebrate Christmas traditionally in my house. Like almost everyone in my house has already gotten all of their Christmas gifts. I would probably want just a quiet night with a long hot bath, my favorite bath bomb and a glass of wine. She really does How I became a cliche mom that wants bath stuff for presents. I have no idea. I'd likely love to get Metro Exodus pre-order. I know my BF doesn't pre-order games anymore because of some of the new pre-order issues with games with un-dedicated developers but it's a game I am excited for and hope to have come February when it comes out. Rhett A week in Hawaii, no phone, no computer, feet in the sand and a beer in my hand! Is that too much to ask for Santa? I've been good. Jim I'd say world peace but I think a 2019 Chevy Corvette ZR1 would be easier! Mark Wade A couple good bottles of wine, or I'd also quite like a new iPad Pro. Not relevant but made me laugh Matt Like others here at Invision Community, I've reached the grand old age where material possessions aren't what I long for. I'm happy watching my two children open their gifts on Christmas morning and then share a meal with family. Or maybe a new iPad Pro because if Mark is getting one, I want one too. Yet again Charles and Lindy declined to comment, so in the spirit of Christmas generosity, I've written their answers for them. Charles I would like a butler because it is what I deserve. Lindy I would like a panic room like in that Jodie Foster movie. I don't think for a second I'm going to be attacked in my own home. I just need a place to hide from the kids now and again. I'll kit it out with fresh kombucha, artisanal popcorn and poetry books. I'll be happy for hours. So, that is what we want for Christmas. What about you? Have you been naughty or nice? View the full article
  13. I really enjoy writing about the new features the development team have been slaving over for weeks (and sometimes months.) It's a real joy to be able to share the finished product after we've seen it through inception, discussion, planning, assigning to a developer, coding, peer reviewing and final group testing. Although sometimes, the features can be explained in a few screenshots, which makes for a pretty thin blog entry. With that in mind, I've grouped together 6 of the best new micro-features for Invision Community 4.4. Browser notifications We introduced browser notifications in a previous version of Invision Community. Once you've opted in to receive them, you'll get a fancy browser notification when new content is posted while you're off browsing other sites. However, the browser prompt to ask for permission to push notifications isn't subtle, and it attacks you the second you log in for the first time. In Invision Community 4.4, we've made it, so you're only asked to opt-in once you open the notification drop down. No more being attacked by a permission dialog Widget display settings One of the most popular features we've added to the front end in recent times is the drag and drop widgets. We see these used on almost every site we visit. A popular request, though, was to be able to hide them from specific devices. By default, the sidebars appear under the main content when viewed on a smaller device such as a phone. There may be times where you wish to show a block for those on tablets and desktops, but remove it for phones, so it doesn't take up precious retail space. Happily, you can now do this on each block with 4.4. Desktop only? Club Navigation Clubs are relatively new to Invision Community but they incredibly popular as they allow you to run micro-communities within your main community. You're not limited to just forums either; you can add gallery albums and more to each club. We've added the ability to re-arrange the club tabs allowing you to prioritise what you members see first. Rearranging club tabs Announcement URLS Announcements have been a core feature for a long time now. We use them whenever we have a holiday so we can notify our customers about reduced support on those days. We've made it so you can now link to an item, rather than have to provide new copy for each announcement. We may have overdone it a bit Time Frame selector We noticed that in numerous areas around the Admin CP we had time input boxes. These would sometimes be used for seconds, minutes, hours and even days. We've seen customers forced to enter things like 86400 seconds when they want the time frame to last a day. The lack of consistency wasn't great either. In Invision Community 4.4, we've added a new Time Frame selector which is used as standard on all areas we ask for a time frame to be entered. No more taking your socks off to work out how many seconds in a month. Time is no longer relative Group Name Styling For about as long as I can remember (and as I get older, this is not an impressive amount of time), we've allowed group names to be stylized when shown in the online user list. A very popular request is to extend that same group highlighting throughout the suite. Finally, Invision Community 4.4 brings this to the suite. If the group name is visible, that gets the styling, otherwise the name does These features may be micro in nature, but we hope they make a significant improvement to your community. Which are you most looking forward to? Drop a comment below and let us know. View the full article
  14. It's easy to think that email is a relic from the past; from simpler times long before social media and the rise of phone apps. And it's reasonable to think that way. Your phone constantly pings at you, and your laptop OS constantly pings at you, so why bother with email? Because it's still a hugely powerful medium to get and retain attention. In 2017, over 269 billion emails were sent and received per day. Of those, 3,360,250,000 are opened, read, and a link clicked. Email is still very much a critical tool in your quest for retention. Invision Community knows this. We have options to notify members of replies by email, weekly or monthly digests by email and members can opt-in for bulk emails sent from your community team. Given how important email is, it was only fair that we invested in some love for our email system for 4.4. Email Statistics Just above, I mention that 269 billion emails are sent, and 3.4 billion are opened, read and clicked. How many emails are sent from your Invision Community daily? (No cheating and checking with SendGrid) You probably have no idea as we didn't record email statistics. As of Invision Community 4.4 we do! Chart showing the number of emails sent daily We now track emails sent, and the number of link clicks inside those emails. Email Advertisements Email notifications are a powerful way to get your members to revisit your community. The member welcomes these emails as it means they have new replies to topics they are interested in reading. While you have your member's attention, you have an opportunity to show them a banner-style advertisement. The new email advertisement form When creating a new email advert, you can choose to limit the advert to specific areas such as topics, blogs, etc. - and even which forums to limit by. Subliminal messages This is a new way to reach your audience with your promotions. Unfollow without logging in Despite spending most of this blog entry shouting the virtues of email, it's inevitable that one or two members may wish to stop receiving notification emails. In previous versions, the unfollow link would have taken you to a login page if you were signed out. For members that haven't been back in a while, this may cause some annoyance if they do not recall their login details. Invision Community 4.4 allows non-logged in members to unfollow the item they received an email about or all followed items without the need to log in. You no longer need to log in to unfollow items Respecting your member's inbox is vital to keep on good terms with them and to keep them engaged in your community. We'd love to know which of these features you're most keen to try in 4.4. Please drop a comment below and let us know! View the full article
  15. It's been said that the best place to hide a dead body is on page 2 of Google. While we can't promise to get you to page 1 for a generic search term, we have taken some time for Invision Community 4.4 to do an SEO sweep. Moz.com defines SEO as "a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. SEO encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines." We have the technical skills and were fortunate enough to have Jono Alderson of Yoast lend his time, knowledge and vast experience to improve our SEO. This blog article gets a little technical. It's completely fine to leave at this point with the comfort of knowing that Google will be a little happier on your site with Invision Community 4.4. The majority of the changes are designed to send stronger signals to Google and friends over which content to slurp and which to look at a bit later. Still here? Good. Let us roll up our sleeves and open the hood. Pagination The most visible change is that we've taken pagination out of query strings and placed it in the path. For example, the current pagination system looks a little like: yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/?page=3 Which is fine but it gets a little confusing when you add in a bunch of sort filters like so: yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/?sort=asc&field=topic&page=3 A better approach would be to make a clear signal to both Google and humans that pagination is a separate thing. Invision Community 4.4 does this: yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/page/3/?sort=asc&field=topic Not only is this good for search engines, but it's also good for the humans too as it is more readable and no longer confused with filter parameters. Of course, we ensure that the old style pagination is redirected (via a 301 header) to the new pagination URL automatically so nothing breaks. Canonical Tags These tags are a way of telling search engines that a specific URL is the 'master copy' of a page. This helps prevent duplicate content from being indexed. Without it, you are leaving it up to the search engine to choose which is the master copy of the page. For example: yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/ and yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/?sort=desc&field=time may show the same content but have different URLs. By setting the canonical tag to point to yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/ regardless of filters sends a strong signal to the search engines that this is the page you want to be spidered. Invision Community sets these tags in many places, but we audited these in 4.4 and found a few areas where they were missing. For example, viewing a member's profile doesn't always set a canonical tag which may confuse search engines when you click on "View Activity" and get a list of content items. Soft 404s When an application or website wants to tell the visitor that the page they are looking for doesn't exist, it sends a 404 header code along with a page that says something "We could not find that item" or "No rows available". If a search engine spiders a page that looks like a 404 page, but it doesn't have the 404 header code, it logs it as a "soft 404". Given the short amount of time Google has on your site to discover new content, you don't want it to hit many soft 404s. Invision Community 4.4 omits containers (such as forums, blogs, etc.) that have no content (such as a new forum without any topics yet) from the sitemap, and also adds a 'noindex, follow' meta tag into the HTML source. Google will periodically check to see if the status of the page has changed and happily slurp away when content has been added. Other changes Although the changes listed here don't deserve their own section in this article, they are no less important. We have audited the new JSON-LD markup added to Invision Community 4.3 to help search engines better understand the relationship between pages. The "truncate" method that is used to display a snippet of text in areas such as the activity stream now only sends the first 500 characters to the javascript method to reduce page loads and page 'noise'. The profile view in Invision Community contains a mix of information pertinent to the member and content they've authored. We've ensured that the content areas are using a specific URL, with appropriate canonical tags. This will help reduce confusion for search engines. If you made it this far, then well done. It's time to slam the hood closed and mop our collective brows. These changes will certainly help Google and friends spider your site a little more efficiently and have a clearer idea about what pages and data you want to be indexed which can only improve your ranking. View the full article
  16. Did you know that the most magical community in the world runs on Invision Community? For close to 12 years, Invision client @Michael R has been spreading joy through the Santa Claus Network (ClausNet.com), the world’s largest community for Santa and his followers. He started building the site in November 2006 and went live in the beginning of 2007, using Invision Community as his platform of choice since the beginning. Michael also founded the James D. Rielly Foundation in honor of his grandfather – a non-profit organization that provides charitable and emotional support to military and first responder families. As a tribute to the holidays, Mike was gracious enough to be interviewed by Joel on behalf of Invision Community on how he uses Invision Community and engages with his unique community. J: This is such a wonderful community of passion. How did you get started? Back in October 2005, I attended the world-famous Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School. It was a Christmas present I received from my wife. At that time, I had already been portraying Santa for 34 years but was a bit skeptical of what I would get out of attending a “Santa School.” He’s already nailed the Santa look. At the school I got to meet Santas from all over the World! It was a wonderful experience and I am still friends with many of the folks, but what I enjoyed most of all was the camaraderie I felt with my fellow brothers and sisters in red. This was the catalyst in creating ClausNet – to recreate the same feeling of fellowship I felt at the school. J: Your membership must be very unique. ClausNet is the world's largest online community dedicated to the faithful portrayal of Santa Claus. Our membership also includes Mrs. Claus, Elves, Reindeer Handlers, and all others who devote their time to bringing the magic of Christmas to children and adults throughout the world! In comparison to other sites, 2,900 isn’t a lot of members. But based on some estimates it’s about two thirds of all the Santas and Mrs. Clauses on the planet! We are very selective who of we approve for membership. In addition to Invision’s validation process, I personally email each person who registers for an account. I do this to help eliminate trolls and other Grinchy people, but mostly to keep out the prying eyes of children to preserve the Secret of Santa and keep the magic alive for children of all ages! J: What Invision apps do you use, and how do you use them? We have all the Invision Community apps and rely upon them for many purposes. We don’t sell products on the site but we do use Commerce for donations. Members can purchase Supporter Level Memberships at varying prices. We use Pages and Blogs for posting short stories, opinion pieces, and even business advice. We use Downloads for sharing files such as example contracts and business card templates. The Calendar app is a great resource in notifying and scheduling regional get-togethers, workshops, schools, and training sessions. Articles and short stories written in Pages. J: What are some of the most innovative features of Invision Community that your members have embraced? I believe Invision Community is the most robust platform for building online communities. Our members really like the new Clubs feature. We use Clubs for regional and local groups as well as specific topics such as prop making and costuming. From the Long Leaf Pines to the Northern Pacific, ClausNet uses regional clubs all over the world to foster closer relationship. J: There must be seasonality with your niche. How do you keep your members engaged throughout the year and what are some special events that you host? Throughout the year we run several activities designed to keep up engagement. Member of the Month - Each month, I select a different member of our community to featured. We interview the candidate and post the interview on the site. ClausNet Gazette Monthly Newsletter - We send out a monthly newsletter of content from the website. Surprisingly, it’s the first time many of the members see the content. It is a great way to keep members coming back to the site. Christmas Card and Ornament Exchange – These are two of the most anticipated events we hold. Members sign up and are randomly paired with another, so they can exchange cards or ornaments. It’s very exciting to receive Christmas ornaments from another part of the world! We also run several other programs such as an Annual Raffle, Countdown to Christmas, Picture Contests, and Latest News. J: As a longtime Invision client whose passion is the holidays, what are your holiday wishes to other Invision clients and clients-to-be? As many of you know, Christmas is my favorite holiday – a holiday that lives in my heart year-round! May this holiday season be one of health and happiness for you and your loved ones. Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Festive Festivas, Fröhliche Weihnachten, Nollaig Shona, Boas Festas, Buon Natale, Feliz Navidad, Merry Christmas! J: Thank you Mike for graciously spending your time with me and other Invision clients to learn how you engage with members using Invision Community. Hopefully this interview has helped inspire and motivate other clients with some extra cheer during the holiday season! View the full article
  17. Outside your window, the leaves have burst into fiery reds and oranges. A crisp breeze floats in the air. The birds have long chirped their good-byes. And you’re sipping a hot cup of apple cider, contemplating the change in season. The holidays are almost here. The end of the year is one of the best chances to take stock your community and provide an emotive experience for your members. It’s a chance to reflect upon what you learned, what new initiatives you started, and what you still have ahead of you. It’s a chance to provide a sense of closure to the year and to ignite one more burst of community-wide goodwill. In short, the holiday season is an amazing opportunity to bring your community together one last time in 2018. Here are 16 ideas for the holidays in four categories. Try to select at least one idea from each category for a holiday plan that runs the gamut of the community experience. Choose the ones that you especially like; gather your staff members to brainstorm; and put together a plan that’ll navigate you better than Santa’s reindeer through the holidays! Design One of the easiest and simplest things you can do is to update your community’s design for the holiday to provide an immediate visual impact. Users love to see fun twists on your theme. 1. Tweak your logo with falling snow or twinkling lights. 2. Replace your forum icons with holiday ones. 3. Go bold and install a whole new holiday theme from the Marketplace. 4. Coordinate the holiday design across all of your social media and web properties. Remembrance Your 2018 was filled with emotional triumphs and tribulations. Did your community accomplish something great? How many new members did you welcome? Did you lose any members? Create a shared experience that binds and connects your community closer together. 1. Craft a year-end mailer that chronicles your community’s victories and struggles. 2. Post a “Did You Remember This?” topic that reconnects with all the funniest, informative, and most poignant topics. 3. Edit a “Top Moments of 2018” montage that highlights the biggest events that transformed your community in the past year. 4. Memorialize members who have moved on or departed your community. Appreciation Holidays are all about demonstrating appreciation for your loved ones, and your community is no different. Take the time to demonstrate an authentic and warm appreciation for all members who have shared the past year with you. 1. Promote new users who have done a superb job of supporting the community over the year. 2. Send out physical or digital gifts as a token of your appreciation to key members. 3. Write individualized messages for every staff member that highlights their wonderful contributions. 4. Send a thank-you note to Invision Community in the comments below on how using Invision Community has helped propel your community’s growth in 2018. Celebration Finally, the holidays are a season of celebration. Spread tidings of joy and merriment to all members in your community, social media, and offline for all-around cheer. 1. Count down to the holidays with different daily announcement using the Announcements feature. 2. Write a year-end “2018 Celebration Message” mailer to applaud all the great events from 2018 3. Host a winter giveaway with special holiday packages or gifts. 4. Throw a holiday party as a meet-up, using Calendar and Venues, to mingle with your members in person. Reconnect your members one more time in 2018 with a rich and shared story of the past year. The holidays are an intensely emotional time that can provide an occasion for remembrance, an occasion for appreciation, and most of all, an occasion of celebration of all great things that have happened and are yet to come. Let your community be the gift that keeps on giving. Happy holidays to all Invision Community clients, and may your winter holidays be filled with joyous cheer and community friendship! Joel R is a mystery wrapped inside an enigma. When he's not running his own successful community, he's peppering Invision Community's private Slack channel with his feedback, community management experience and increasingly outrageous demands (everything is true except the last part). View the full article
  18. Sun kissed beaches or snowscapes? Bustling cities or quiet villages? The question we posted this month was: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? In theory we could work from anywhere in the world that has a decent internet connection, but where would we choose to live? Mark Wade It was only a few months ago that I was asking myself this exact question! I've always enjoyed telling people that of the great things about working on the Internet is that I can work anywhere in the world, all I have to do is bring a laptop - and yet, despite saying that, I was still living in the little English town that I was born in. At the end of last year I decided it was time to actually take advantage of that so I moved Sydney, Australia. Sydney has everything you could ever want. First, obviously it's a major city with all the conveniences and excitement of that, and even moreso than a lot of places it always has stuff going on (the first time I was strolling past Darling Harbour on a Saturday evening and had this conversation: "oh wow a fireworks display, what's the occasion?" / "...it's saturday?" - I knew I was in a good place). But for when you want some quiet time, there's some of the world's most gorgeous beaches on one side of the city, and mountain forests on the other. It's perfect. Australian ambassadors in the late 1980s Jim Morrissey So recently (last 2 years) have been doing some traveling during winter months and I've seriously underestimated previously how much living in Florida for the past 20 years has ruined me. This has led me to where I can't live anywhere else but a tropical climate with 100% humidity now. As well, the thought of driving my cars in the snow/salt is even more unappealing than the cold/dryness. In short, I've come to realize, I'm quite happy in Florida. Florida is nice, but it's no Skegness Brandon I would move to Costa Rica. Not because it's exotic, and beautiful, and has tons of fun things to do and see. But because I could have health care without having to pull out a second mortgage. Forget Costa Rica, the UK has Costa Coffee Matt I'm rather fond of the UK but I do love America, so I think I'd split my time three ways. Spend the UK in the summer (that may be about 3 weeks based on an average year), spend the winter somewhere warm, perhaps on the south coast of America with the exception of a few weeks around Christmas where I'd take the kids somewhere filled with snow. Mark H If I could live anywhere I wanted to (and financing was not an obstacle), that would be Hawaii. First because its average temperature doesn’t change much over the year and is nearly tropical year-round, but also because it’s the only State in the U.S. that I have not yet visited. Having lived in Minnesota nearly all my life, as I get older the less I can tolerate Winter each year. Jennifer So I love where I live currently. Arizona (particularly in the valley) is amazing. It's mostly hot but absolutely no snow (albeit sometimes it gets cold enough that there is frost on cars). I think out of the 20 years I've lived here I've only truly seen snow in the valley 1 time and it didn't last long. My secondary location would be Australia. It has a similar climate, some really awesome people and Amanda Palmer visits their regularly so I'd finally be able to see one of her shows. Overall, as long as it doesn't snow you can basically consider it an ideal location for me. That awkward moment when Arizona buys the wrong bridge Andy I’ve always had a strong attraction to Scandinavia and particularly Norway. There’s something quite appealing about the remoteness, nature and freedom to make your own life choices. Unfortunately I’m not at all tolerant of the cold so I don’t think I could live there permanently. Am I allowed to split my time between Norway and Italy? Remoteness? Can I interest you in Wales? Marc S I think if I could live anywhere in the world, I would probably live in Australia. Simply because I hate winter. I don't like the cold, and prefer 30c+ every day if I had the option. In fact if I went back in time, I would certainly have done that knowing what I know now. Having children and family around, it's not something I would likely do at this stage in my life. Where would you like to live? Let us know in the comments below. View the full article
  19. Ever since its first release, the REST API built into the Invision Community software has proven to be a very powerful and well-received feature. We love seeing what our clients and modification authors are able to do with the level of integration afforded to them through this capability, and so it is only natural that we have looked to expand the functionality in our upcoming 4.4 release. Poll Support Beginning with 4.4, you will now be able to create and update polls for both topics and blog entries through the REST API. Of course, modification authors can use this new endpoint. Warn Reasons You will also now be able to manage warn reasons through the REST API. This includes fetching a list of reasons, as well as fetching an individual reason, creating warn reasons, updating existing warn reasons, and deleting warn reasons. Event Venues Event venues can now be listed and individual venues fetched through the REST API, and you can now add, update and delete event venues through the REST API. Member Notifications You can now retrieve a list of notifications for a specific member through the REST API, useful if you were to attempt to recreate the notifications menu on a third party website (for example). Warning Users The REST API will now expose the warnings a user has received through a new endpoint. Additionally, you can fetch individual warnings, issue new warnings, undo and/or delete issued warnings, and acknowledge warnings through the REST API. If you are building a site wrapper around your community, you can leverage this functionality to ensure that users are unable to post elsewhere on your site if they have unacknowledged warnings within the community (and also to provide them with a way to acknowledge those warnings right on your site). The REST API Reference Node permissions Beginning with 4.4, you will now be able to set the permissions for a node when adding or updating it through the REST API (for example, you can now adjust the permissions for a forum or a downloads category through the REST API). Many clients noticed that while they could create new nodes through the API, the nodes would be unusable until an administrator manually went in and specified the permissions, so this change can eliminate this extra step in many situations. Event filtering You will now also be able to filter the events you pull through the Calendar REST API endpoints by start and end date (e.g. so you can show events within a specific time frame, such as the current week), and you can now also specify to sort the events returned by the event start date or the event end date. Clubs And finally, for those who leverage clubs on their communities, we have built in full REST API support for clubs. You can list all clubs, return a specific club, create new clubs, update existing clubs, and delete clubs through the REST API. Further, you can list all members in a club, add a specific member to a specific club, remove a member from a club, fetch the content types available for use within a club (i.e. so you can determine which applications are installed and have club support on a given site), fetch the nodes (displayed as tabs/sections within a club) created within a club, and delete nodes from a club. Important behind the scenes steps, such as generating invoices for members requesting to join paid clubs, are all handled automatically for you when using the REST API. We believe these changes will help clients better integrate with our software and open up new possibilities with their websites. Would you like us to add any other endpoints? Let us know in the comments below! View the full article
  20. 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? We've been adding useful articles such as the benefits of owning your own community versus a Facebook Group, how to prevent spam and how to apply gamification to your community. And we're already working on our next major release due out early 2019. To celebrate, we have a new coupon code for you! 20% OFF SUPER65 OR LARGER 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: BF2018 20% OFF SELF HOSTED LICENSES Prefer to manage your own hosting? No problem. Grab your downloadable license today. The coupons can be used for renewals too. Use coupon code during checkout: BF2018 The small print These coupons are valid from today right through to midnight Monday 26th November (EST). Thanks and happy shopping! View the full article
  21. It might seem a little odd starting a blog on increasing Invision Community's speed with the word "lazy", but I'll explain why this is a good word for performance shortly. Earlier this year, Google announced that page speed is a ranking factor. Simply put, if your site is slow, it will be ranked lower in Google's search results. It is always a challenge making a large application like Invision Community as efficient as possible per page load. A single Invision Community page can pull in widgets from multiple applications as well as a lot of user-generated content with attachments, movies and images used heavily. This is where being lazy helps. Lazy loading is a method by which attachments, embeds and images are not loaded by default. They are only loaded when the viewer scrolls down enough to make them visible. This allows the page to load a good deal faster now it doesn't have to load megabytes of images before the page is shown as completely rendered. I was going to take a fancy video showing it in action, but it's hard to capture as the system loads the media just before you get to it, so it looks fairly seamless, even with sluggish connections. Not the most dynamic image, but this shows the placeholder retains the size of the image We have added this lazy loading to maps and Twitter emoji images. Improving non-image attachments Once we had implemented the lazy loading framework, an area we wanted to improve was non-image attachments. We have listened to a lot of the feedback we had on this area, and have now made it very clear when you add an attachment into a post. We've even returned the download count now it's being loaded on demand. Using attachments when posting All the letters When we first implemented the letter avatars in 4.3, we discussed whether to use CSS styling or use an image. We decided to go with an image as it was more stable over lots of different devices, including email. We've revisited this in 4.4, and switched the letter avatars to SVG, which are much faster to render now that the browser doesn't have to load the image files. Other performance improvements We've taken a pass at most areas with an eye for performance, here is a list of the most significant items we've improved. Several converter background tasks have been improved, so they work on less data Duplicate query for fetching clubs was removed in streams Notifications / follower management has been improved Member searches have been sped up (API, ACP live search, member list in ACP, mentions, etc.). Stream performance has been improved UTF8 conversions have been sped up Elasticsearch has been sped up by using pre-compiled queries and parameterisation, as well as the removal of view filtering (and tracking) HTTP/2 support with prefetch/preload has been added Several PHP-level performance improvements have been made Implemented rel=noopener when links open a new window (which improves browser memory management) Several other performance improvements for conversions were implemented that drastically reduce conversion time IP address lookups now fetch IP address details from us en-masse instead of one request per address Cache/data store management has been streamlined and centralised for efficiency Many background tasks and the profile sync functionality have all been improved for performance Brotli compression is now supported automatically if the server supports it Redis encryption can now be disabled if desired, which improves performance Phew, as you can see, we've spent a while tinkering under the hood too. We'd love to hear your thoughts. Let us know below! This blog is part of our series introducing new features for Invision Community 4.4. View the full article
  22. Allowing your customers to find exactly what they need as fast as possible will no doubt increase sales. A good number of our customers use Commerce to sell physical items. Until now, it's always been a little tricky to set up the store to allow customers to drill down into specific items within the store. In Invision Community 4.4, the sidebar in the store now includes filter options to help customers find the product they're looking for. Screen Recording 2018-11-06 at 11.45.49.mov Using the filter sidebar Administrators can set up whatever filters they like for each product. In this video above, you can see we have set up filters for color and price. You can set these filters up in the AdminCP by simply specifying each possible option: Creating a custom filter Once the filters have been set up, you can then add each filter to the categories it applies to (so you can have different filters for different categories) and when editing any product you can specify as many values for each filter as is appropriate (for example, if you have a color filter, you can choose multiple colors if the product allows the customer to choose a color, or if the product has multiple colors). Choosing the filter values when creating/editing a product In addition to these custom filters, you will also see filters for price (you can set appropriate bands for each category), rating, and stock level. Other Commerce Improvements In addition, we also have a few more features new to Commerce in 4.4: There are new sidebar blocks for best selling products, latest products, product reviews and a featured product. When sending a bulk mail, you can target recipients by the total amount they have spent. Categories with no products in them are hidden automatically in the store. Notification emails sent to customers to let them know their purchase will expire soon (including if they will be automatically charged) have been improved to show more clearly what will happen. When viewing a customer page in the AdminCP, active purchases are separated from expired and cancelled purchases to make it easier to discern which are active. Custom field values are now included on printed invoices. When filtering support requests in the AdminCP, you can now choose "more than" or "less than" for all time-based filter options. When using stock actions to reply to support requests, the stock reply can be incorporated into the staff member's default reply content rather than overwriting it. Invoices in the AdminCP can now be filtered by status. This blog is part of our series introducing new features for Invision Community 4.4. View the full article
  23. This month, I thought I'd ask a trick question. "What is your favourite movie?" I fully expected to be told "but Matt, we work so hard on Invision Community, we don't have time to watch movies." just so I didn't have to complete this month's entry. But no. Apparently, most of our team have MULTIPLE favourites. Hmmm. And here they are. Jennifer Favorite movies are a pain to choose because there are so many great (and greatly terrible) movies out there. So I'm going to choose a few that I just really adore and explain why. So the first one is "Halo: Forward Unto Dawn". I have never played a Halo game in my entire life. I just find the movie intriguing and smooth. It has an amazing pace and of course there are aliens. It's also one of those movies that I can just put on when I don't feel like watching anything else but I want to watch something. The replay value for me is amazing. The Next one is a psychological thriller called "Pandorum" this movie is a thriller about a man that wakes up in a broken space ship that was on its way to another world. The way it's put together is amazing, the story is twisted and it's just an amazing watch. It's something that I can easily say was a quick favorite from the first time I saw it. I can never forget the lovely "Dredd" in this list of my favorite movies. Muricer for the win! It has all the elements of a great Sci-Fi plus Karl Urban and Lena Headey. I win all around on this movie. Plus, it's even better in 3D with the Slo-mo drug. While I can list more I'm going to round off my answer with 2 Series movies. "Tremors" and "Sharknado". What most of you don't know about me is that I'm a sucker for horribly trashy horror movies ("Zombeavers" is another favorite with the same reason as these two series). Scantly clad women, screaming, monsters, corrupt people and lots of blood. There is no better thing to watch. I love a good day of Monster Movies and beer. The trashier the better. When Mark Wade is challenged in a git review Marc I think I will go for 3 different points in time for favourite movies. One from growing up, one which is a classic IMO, and one more recent that I've enjoyed. Growing up, it has to be 'Labyrinth' staring David Bowie. It's the first movie I ever watched at the cinema with my parents, and one I can still watch to this day. I'm very much guilty of singing along to every song, and I'm actually banned from watching it anywhere near my wife as I say every single word in the script a split second before they say it. I think its safe to say I have seen it a few times. A classic for me would be 'Schindlers list'. To me this is one of the best movies ever made, and while I'm sure it will have been greatly adapted for a movie audience, it also shows what many went through during WW2 which are not so common knowledge. A great movie for children to sit there and watch who don't know about it, as it gets them asking questions that all children should ask and learn from. For a more recent movie, I quite enjoyed 'Sully: Micracle on the Hudson'. I generally like movies by Tom Hanks anyway, but I did particularly enjoy this one. Bonus recent movie - Baby Driver I really enjoyed. Great movie, and the star somehow looks familiar I'm sure 'ed' will find a suitable image to illustrate. Disapproving Wade Mark W Airplane. I must have seen it dozens of times, it never gets old, I quote it constantly... I just love it. When Wade is reviewing your branch Andy Zathura - Jumanji in space, no more words are required. When you're late reviewing Wade's branch Brandon This is a fairly challenging question to answer, as someone who watches a lot of movies. I own somewhere around 1500 DVDs/BluRays, though in recent years I've been buying fewer and renting more. A few of my top movies would include (in no particular order)... 1. The Matrix Series - while I've overplayed the series at this point, the story was amazing at the time and it had so many allegories to real life that were fun to think about even when you were done watching. 2. Doom - it was campy and silly overall, but a lot of fun. Karl Urban and The Rock together was a cool mix. 3. The One - I have always been a fan of Jet Li, but when this came out I thought the cinematography was awesome. The way they did the slow-mo movements was neat, and the story was quite unique. Plus, Jason Statham is awesome, and he was a supporting role instead of a lead. When you challenge Wade in a review Jim Morrissey The Beatles’ “Help!” has got to be my favorite movie due to the special place it holds with my family. My sister growing up was a huge Beatles fan and being the younger sibling, it kind of got forced on me but grew to be a fan as well. This movie, in my opinion, was my great due to the music (great album) and very dry comedy that is hilarious. Think I can recite each line of the movie as I’ve seen it too many times. It definitely isn't a movie set out to win any acting awards but if you haven’t seen it and like the Beatles, I would recommend it. When you get a list of 'recommendations' on your branch Daniel As Daniel Son I have to say Karate Kid 🥋 Nah, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is just to sick and amazing and gets never boring! Daniel likes to commit on, then commit off Mark H Like the others, I can’t pick just one movie. For documentaries, that would be “The Longest Day”, the story of the Jun 6, 1944, allied invasion of Normandy, with perspectives from all sides of the conflict. The book by Cornelius Ryan on which it’s based is a very long read, but gripping and factual, and this movie is one of the few that actually did justice to the book from which it was derived. Anyone with a passion for history should both see the movie and read the book. The runner-up in this category would be “Saving Private Ryan”, although it did take liberties with historical fact. For other general fiction it would be “The Silence Of The Lambs”. Few movies have creeped me out like this one did. Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of Hannibal Lecter was truly chilling, Two runner-ups would be the mini-series “Lonesome Dove”, based on the books by Larry McMurtry, a fictional work about the frontier Wild West, but could easily be true, and “The Thorn Birds”, a similar genre set in Australia and based on the book by Colleen McCullough. When you run out of logical facts during a developer's meeting We'd love to hear which movies you love, or that have inspired you in some way. Let us know below! View the full article
  24. It's very easy to focus on a single metric to gauge the success of your community. It's very common for community owners to look at page hits and determine if their SEO and marketing efforts have paid off. Getting traffic to your site is only half the equation though. The most valuable metric is how many casual visitors you're converting to engaged members. Invision Community already makes it easy for guests to sign up using external services such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. However, there has to be a conscious decision to click that sign-up button. For some, this may be a barrier too many. Invision Community 4.4 reduces this barrier by allowing guests to create a post to a topic they want to engage with. Once they have posted, they are asked to simply complete their registration. They are more likely to do this now they have invested in your community. This will be incredibly valuable when you consider how much traffic a forum receives from inbound Google searches. With Post Before Registering, you'll increase your chances of turning that inbound lead into a registered member contributing to your site. Let me take you through the feature and show you how it works. When browsing the community guests will see the ability to submit a post, with an explanation that they can post now and complete registration later. The only thing they have to provide in addition to their post is an email address. Posting as a guest This works in any application for new content (topics, Gallery images, etc.) as well as comments and reviews. It will only show when a newly registered member would be able to post in that area - for example, it will not show in a forum that only administrators can post in. After submitting the post, the post will not be visible to any user, but the user will immediately be redirected to the registration form with an explanation to complete the registration. The email address they provided will already be filled in. Registration form after posting as a guest At this point, the user can either fill in the registration form, or use a social sign in method like Facebook or Twitter to create an account. After the account has been created, and validation has been completed if necessary, their post will automatically be made visible just as if they had registered and then posted. If the user abandons the registration after they've submitted their post, an email will be sent to them to remind them to complete the registration. Email reminding user to finish registering Some Notes Invision Community already has a feature that allows guests to post as guests without registration if granted permission. That feature has not been removed and so if you already allow guests to post, the behaviour will not change. This new feature is only available when a guest can't post in a given area, but a member would be able to. The entire feature can also be turned off if undesired. If the area the guest is posting in requires moderator approval, or newly registered members require approval of new posts, the post will enter the moderation queue as normal once their account has been created. Third party applications will require minor updates to support this feature. Once your casual visitor has invested time in your community by crafting a post, they are much more likely to finish the registration to get it posted. If you have set up external log in methods, then registration only takes a few more clicks. This blog is part of our series introducing new features for Invision Community 4.4. View the full article
  25. Yet again, Joel hijacks our company blog for another generous slice of knowledge from the front-lines of administrating a successful community. Inspired by Invision Community client @Joey_M who discovered the emoji of serendipity and chief architect @Matt who literally knows everything about Invision Community in ACP Tips and Tricks, they both made me realize there’s always something to learn no matter your level of experience. You know how to post. You know how to react. You sometimes spice it up and make a poll. And for the most part, you and your users go about your forum lives with a secure sense of certainty and satisfaction that you know how to interact with your community. But what if I told you there’s a whole world of wonder at your fingertips, young grasshopper? Your Invision Community includes stars to navigate by; magical pictures that appear and disappear; and little yellow men who giggle, laugh, and sometimes roll over in delight. Here are 5 hidden tips to help you discover a little more of the IPS magic for you and your users. How do you know what you don’t know? 1. Click-and-hold Be sure to dazzle your users with this secret way of changing your content title. Change titles of your content items such as topic titles, album titles, and download files by using the click-and-hold strategy. Go to your forums and click-and-hold down the mouse over any topic title until you see that you’re able to edit the title. Surprise! Use this secret strategy as the perfect way to quickly mass edit titles. Click-and-impress your users with the click-and-hold strategy 2. Stars and Dots Active forum users jump around dozens of boards every day to stay involved. And within a loooong topic with many pages, you need a fast way to jump to the most recent unread topic. Before each topic is an icon: either a dot or a star. Clicking these icons will always jump you to the latest unread post, so you can quickly dive back into the conversation. Dot means unread; Star means you participated in the topic. My forum icon constellation tells me that I’m most compatible with a Capricorn. 3. Emoji Short-codes One of the newest features to be included in Invision Community is emojis. While there are ways to insert emojis from both mobile keyboards and the editor, you can also start typing “:thumbs up:” to reveal the secret emoji menu. Try it now in the comments of this article. Last person to give me an emoji thumbs up wins! Be a 💯 with 🙂 4. Image Attachments Forum posts come alive with image attachments that add color and vibrancy. But adding thumbnails to the bottom of your posts is a missed opportunity to enrich your post at the appropriate spots within the post. After you upload an image attachment to a forum post, double-click on the image attachment. You’ll be presented with a secret menu with options to align and resize, so you can create stunning forum posts with images. Much color. Much alignment. So much wow. 5. Profile Banners Banners play a prominent part in multiple parts of the community, such as the Calendar, Profile, Clubs, and Blogs. But usually the page only displays a portion of the banner, and most of the banner is hidden. If you ever want to see the full banner in all of its glory, click near the top of the banner to auto-magically reveal everything! Now you see, now you don’t. The iceberg is a metaphor How many of these five secret tips did you know? If you knew all five, give yourself a round of applause! It’s rare for even the most seasoned Invision Community administrator to know all five, and you’ve mastered them all. Did you know four? Congrats, you’ve done a great job of exploring your community suite and you should keep it up. Did you know three or less? You should do some serious soul searching. Kidding. But it’s a definite sign that your soul would benefit from reading Invision Community News for more useful tips. Becoming a great community manager is a combination of community strategy and product knowledge. By empowering yourself with more functional knowledge and tools, you’re giving yourself the ability to leverage a bigger toolkit. Whether you’re typing emoji short-codes to laugh with your members or inserting attachments into a tutorial on hidden tips for your community, I hope you learned something new, something surprising, and something perhaps even a little wonderful. Let us know in the comments below what hidden tip surprised you the most. View the full article
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