LOL. Thanks for the unabridged. I think the "vacuum" tag some apply is more about IPB3 customers being left to incorrectly assume continuity of IPB3 features for a long time - IPS is still currently promoting features not planned for IPS4 . Whether IPS 4 "might not fit current needs perfectly" may be underestimating the potential impact on existing sites and models and what drives these communities. Hopefully the overwhelming majority will not feel it. I think IPS defined a subset of what community is in IPS4. "Community" is just a group of people with the same interests . People in Podunk County will share many things publicly. But if they choose to share/trust items of a more personal/intimate nature only with a subset of the community, that doesn't suddenly mean Podunk County is no longer a community. Providing a platform to manage public/sensitive content for this natural course of human conduct means keeping users on your site - which you actually do. The Friends List you believe serves "essentially no purpose" serves a very important purpose on customer sites like Podunk County and like @CheersnGears runs. It's not new functionality. Not only did IPS foster this silly idea in IPB2 and IPB3 but IPS it is still promoting both Friends' and private albums as a feature in the IPS Gallery sell page - both of which were removed from IPS4! Doesn't exactly help 3.x customers set accurate expectations, does it?
@ Jaymez explained it perfectly -- Friends generates an arbitrary list on sites where it isn't needed because it couldn't be hidden with an admin control. Relegating Friends to some possible future hook means no third party commitment to development (nor my own) and probability of limited to no use. Perhaps you're right -- the overwhelming majority of customers will never need Friends and private albums (which is now being brought back.) I don't know. From out here it just seemed like there may have been a number of broad assumptions. If I only could wait even longer to hold off on development. Unfortunately my competitors won't allow me that luxury nor will my already far too long delayed plans thinking IPS 4 was IPS3+. I'm sure IPS 4 will eventually represent a marked advancement and I'm looking forward to it. Anyway, enough talk. The release will probably provide more useful and tangible feedback on everything discussed. Back to the hiatus and best of luck with the release!
I agree with everything @CheersnGears just said ^^^^. Lindy, all the social networks you listed and pure UGC sites all have very good content sharing tools. Is there a need for anyone to do YA public facing user generated content model yet again? I think there is a fundamental disconnect in understanding why CheersnGears' long list of site types and privately owned forums in general is not Facebook or even LinkedIn forums which is fine for the task. The most patently obvious difference is that people don't want to use their real names -- and they don't have to. They don't want to worry about a large public corporation selling every piece of data and content uploaded. They don't want to discover why the content that they thought was private really isn't private. They trust the community member running the site whom they believe is like minded. That is a need - a very large niche which Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Instagram do NOT serve. And then there are large niche communities -- support, recovery, addiction, nightlife/adult (huge), etc. -- typically extend into having a private content area. It may have nothing at all to do about "leveraging" relationships. It's about feeling comfortable sharing private content with another nameless person they are confident isn't going to use it against them and shouldn't appear in a search engine. It could be a sexy photo, a photo of a skin problem, marijuana plants (even if/when legalized) or a blog/gallery of a car you're making for a car show that you only want a couple of fellow auto modders to see and provide critique. By not providing a stock option, users will go elsewhere to fulfill this desire. And the appeal of IPS 4 is smaller to current/potential customers than IPB 3 due to less flexibility. If you polled the IPS customers, how many would have expected to have stock features in IPB3 for many years (like Friends, BA) removed without being notified or even polled in a newsletter? One might think caution in this direction would be advisable if IPS 4 becomes incompatible with IPB 3 in areas which may have been used by customers. There is no "preference" -- Friends and Followers are not alternatives. Do admins prefer permissions groups or subcriptions/notifications? For different issues you use a different tool. If you've got an adult/dating/social site, you either have friends or some easy to use private permissions group to allow users to privately share content between each other. In fact, you're doing that with IPS 4 -- why? Because you recognize that there is plenty of demand for "cliques" with regard to Gallery. If it's not offered, you have very little practical ability to keep that type of community on your site because they'll need to use another medium or another site to provide the same. I was asked to respond as a last effort, even though it's clear Friends is not in the plans for IPS 4. I don't recall any customer ever saying they didn't want Friends in the software (which could be hidden by creating a toggle switch in the Admin CP if so desired.) But I do see several surprised members saying it's essential for their sites and that no amount of finessing is the equivalent. Gut feeling tells me that 2 years was spent going in another direction making Friends a difficult add, only to be even more difficult as more cement is laid on top of it. Sincerely hope it's not too late. Takeway is IPS 4 may be "better" in some ways but it is certainly a very different product than IPB 3. IPS 4 might be a "niche product." Perhaps the best way to discover customer feedback is with a release, which appears to be imminent. Best of luck and look forward to it.
We'll certainly find out how much of a "minority complaint" removing the Friends list is after IPS 4 is released. Then people will understand. Considering how many still don't seem to understand the difference between the two and how they work, it would seem many still don't grasp how it works. In the simplest terms, Friends always requires dual consent - User A makes request, User B agrees both trust each other. User A posts an image, B can see it because of the Friendship link. Follow does not require dual consent. You can subscribe to any public content you want without the content creator approving your wish to, e.g. subscribe to this thread, blog posts, whatever. I run professional and social communities. The professional group wants to see "friend" relationships so that they can approach others in the same way you'd use LinkedIn or to share private "tips" on getting leads or business info they don't want the general public or search engines to see, etc. Social and Dating sites: There are public image galleries and private albums. People don't want to have their sexy photos on a beach in a search engine or seen by everyone. Same goes photos that may contain children (educational and parenting sites), recreational drug use, adult fetishes, whatever. If private albums in galleries wasn't important, it begs the question why IPS is talking about enhancing a private permissions group back into the Gallery. Friends = one click private permissions group every user understands that covers ALL content in the suite with no need to explain to your users. We actually do agree for the most part. Seems like Friends is probably not happening in the core, which I think it must right now or it will never happen. 1. Critical functionality such as permissions groups need to be in the core. If not, IPS apps and other addons that should make use of friends will not be designed to work with functionality that doesn't exist, and not in the near future. It's complicated to reproduce too. Every IPS and addon update would potentially break the Friends plugin, which is too critical for a community-wide fail. And imagine the hassle to support the plugin trying to wedge it into IPS even later in the game. Private solution, if at all. 2. Nobody who has a friends site can upgrade to IPS 4 without putting their site back to zero. Do you think your community will spend time trying to make requests of every member they had a friends relationship with later? They will probably get angry that you wasted their time in the first place. This is an answer I was waiting for and one of the features that differentiated IPS as a solution from other software that allows users to throw content up against a wall. Most of all, I wanted and expected to build upon that functionality among other things I've mentioned while here that I'm having challenges getting to work for my interests. If this changes, hoping someone will give me a holla but seems like it's full speed ahead as is. I'm unsubscribing, unfollowing, unnotifying myself here. Good luck to you all, friends and followers.
Perhaps no meaningful purpose to IPS and the very small group involved. But users love it on many communities I've run, even if it acts as just a familiar security blanket that makes them feel loved. But moreso, this "arbitrary" list reflects users' own personal choices of whom they trust -- specific data which community owners and plugin developers can leverage by developing their own solutions around it , even if some don't appreciate the bigger picture. Now that community-specific data is wiped out in IPS 4. I don't know what is the "typical community" without a niche. The Xbox community is quite different than the History community which is very different from the Nightlife community. The answer for community admins who aren't keen on footing the bill for private content essential to running certain communities (such as nightlife) is to (a) sell memberships and/or collect donations using the Commerce module; and/or (b) limit the amount of content that users can share using groups; and/or (c) disallow private content sharing. People come to privately owned communities which they believe are run by like minded people and who fill a desire/need in the market. It may resemble Facebook but it is clearly not Facebook, a public company which many recognize exists to make money by selling user data which is a concern. (PS - considering that Gallery is wedging the "private permissions group" feature back in, this seems to foster the private content notion that was removed for the reasons just stated. Confusing. And I don't understand why it wasn't easier to just have "Friends" be that group, removing the need to explain to users some convoluted system.) Twitter is microblogging. It is an entirely different concept than forums, a very critical distinction. What does "to keep track of their content" actually mean on a forum - track the dozens of mundane posts that can be made every day? Follow serves as a bookmark for interesting members - just like you said - that's it. Without powerful tools, the notification system is just a huge unsorted obtrusive haystack that is an activity stream filtered by members. Given the choice, I'd much rather have the upsell of providing semi-private/private content through memberships than a bookmark which could have been developed as a plugin. I won't elaborate on models where notification is useful but I'd wager it won't be on a majority of IPS-type communities. The bottom line to me is that IPS 4 deletes all Friends/user defined trust relationships - so IPS 3 owners are faced with a critical choice. There is no commitment to the Friends function, which may result in few private/semi-private and social networking type plugins, which typically leverage this concept - which is not the direction IPS wants to take the software. IMHO, IPS 4 seems much less flexible than IPS 3. While I may not agree with all these decisions, I respect them. And I truly appreciate you sharing the company's unabridged thoughts on IPS 4 since it now allows me to set expectations as to the direction of IPS 4.
I agree with you completely. I'm just giving you the response I call receiving. I think they have two different functions. Follow is more appropriate in some circumstances but it's definitely not a replacement in others, especially on my communities that have a very large social component. It takes the friendship concept out of the community. I was surprised find Friends removed. At this late date difficult to know what is possible to reintroduce into the software. I'll check in with you guys periodically as I'm focused on projects beginning tomorrow. Good luck with the effort.
The thought was that Follow made a "better" use of the relationship between users and that you should easily be able to convert them. Follow is the new Friend. Try explaining that to your community, lol. So imagine you're a pretty girl and all your "friends" were the result of careful approvals. Now everyone is free to follow/stalk, like it or not. And if you're going to implement some member approval, then you're better off just sticking with friends and make Follow what it should have been all along -- an ehanced "subscribe" system. I liked the ease of IPB 3.x where you could follow/unfollow at the click of a button and done. Good luck. I feel for you and have a social community myself that I wanted to move from another script but it would mean the loss of all those "friends" relationships that mean a lot to the users, whether or not they do anything (and they do.) Good luck with the effort. There are very few "social networks" without a "friends" concept. That's the whole point. LinkedIn - your Links are Friends in the same fashion. And on these sites, nobody cares how easy it is to post content if they don't understand easily how to limit visibility to Friends or "trusted group of members." They won't post the content and will go elsewhere. Friends could have just been left it in, as is, no harm by keeping it there. It could have been extended by third party plugins and IPS could have eventually extended functionality to every app if desired.
I would hope that, if there is consideration for any of this, a decision would be proposed here at earliest time to see what feedback might yield. There may be a lot of lifting that needs to be done given the current approach that still confuses me, such as now created threaded answers. I'd love to know what is possible and soon. I'd be happy with a flat forum as it is now (removal of Up/Down posts). I'd like Best Answer and Thumbs Up/Down to function as Reputation. Likes can be its own metric. Use of Thumbs Up/Down or Like is optional. While I think an award system is certainly necessary, I'd even put that as phase 2 if I could get "top reputation" and "top likes" as a widget. It's easy to understand, communities will still flock to the leaderboard and even some plugin to create a user title based upon Reputation or Likes seems conceptually capable of being done reasonably quickly. Anyway... looking forward to great things here and am confident they will come. Thanks for reading and considering what I wrote.
This was discussed often, with the explanation of the goal of moving users away from creating private content and pushing public, search engine indexible content. It only seems to make sense for sites where people don't care about any type of private content (e.g. sports leagues forums). But I don't think you will ever be successful trying to surf against the tide to try to change the inherent nature of certain personal niches. You can't simply direct them towards being a public content creation monster. Social, family and more adult niches are all about the above - and they are big niches. This relates to the same challenge I have had about why the suite works inconsistently between modules. Every module should feature a consistent set of features. Create it just once, apply across the suite. Friends creates one-click permission groups that virtually every user understands easily. Don't limit the application to gallery but apply it across the board for files, etc. (Same with categories, etc. - every app should have it, but blogs don't need it?) Anyway, good luck with the effort guys. I think IPS3 was great and only needed to nail down hitting the basic things that were missing and an enhancement in SEO and restructure of Pages/IP.C. No need to reinvent the wheel, just enhance it. When I have time again to look, I'm looking forward to seeing great strides made with IPS 4.
I tried to unfollow a Topic. Couldn't find where to do so. It's not even a button, can look like plain text and is hidden on the button under preferences. This should be right at the top when you click on the follow button so you can follow/unfollow easily - or even some type of toggle switch.
Meta description isn't using the meta description provided. It is using the article/record text instead. In addition, meta descriptions cannot be entered on the front end by the user when creating an article, nor can they be edited by the admin on the front end. Both should have access to this standard field. On a related note - Excerpt text is commonly used for display, not article teaser text which cuts off a record's content awkwardly in mid sentence much of the time. I'd suggest adding in this field as well as an option to display "teaser text" in articles or records. In the alternative, you should give the user the ability to simply use the meta description for teaser text if you don't want to complicate things too much.
I wanted to share some thoughts on the new Best Answer forum before I leave on my little vacation and focus my efforts elsewhere. I am sure that a great deal of thought, effort and planning went into the QA forums so I'll say that I appreciate the IPS effort. At this point I'm having difficulty in understanding and using them since, IMHO, they don't follow commonly accepted conventions or what I feel is logic in presentation. It's possible that maybe I'm missing settings, options or other variables aka "user error" so I apologize in advance if this is the case. I'm hoping that IPS or other members can weigh in. (1) Incomprehensible format Look at this topic on DMCA Law and its application to websites globally . In most of these "stack exchange" type conversations, follow up comments stay with the quote so they make sense. The goal is to create little subthreads on legitimate/notable answers and threaded comments for that specific response. For example, I say that the President is a lousy basketball player and 3 comments follow that as a subheading,. Another person says he's a great basketball player and then 6 subcomments follow that. It's like a bullet point list -- and that is the way it appears visually too and which isn't reflect in IPS 4. Pres is a lousy ball player comment 1 comm 2 Pres is a great ball player comm 1 comm 2 comm 3 The up down throws all responses in on bucket and you can have quotes on top that relate to responses at the bottom. This is incomprehensible. This is because even subcomments are as important as the notable comments. It's just one bag of up/down. Look at that topic I posted -- the top rated (not Best Answer) quotes a response at the bottom. Impossible to read. Imagine if this is a 10, 20, 30 comment topic. Total chaos. I don't know how to say this but even VB 5 gets the commenting function and visual presentation correct. comm 3 topic 2 Pres is a great ball player comm 2 topic 1 comm 2 topic 2 Pres is a lousy ballplayer comm 3 topic 2 (2) Incomprehensible Mix of Post Reward System There is a like button and up/down. People are usually presented with one or the other, not both. Look at the same topic. The worst rated post is the most liked. And if I'm presenting this to users, which one do they choose? What if they Like a post but don't up down? What if they do the opposite? What if they do both? Nobody knows and unfortunately IPS seems to make this irrelevant too as per below. (3) Incomprehensible Reward/Reputation System Let us take another example topic on the value of off page SEO . Anyone who has ever used an experts system like QA knows that rewards and showing your expertise is the major driver of these types of systems. It's understandable and obvious. But the Up/Down doesn't seem to reward anyone at all, just push a post up or down, making things just a big mess. If one user has 2 best answers and 400 up posts and another has 4 best answers and 4 up posts, the member with the 4 best answers is superior ranked because Up/Down does nothing but push posts up down, not count for anything. So, let's get to "reputation." What is that? It doesn't mean what you think it means. I would think that Best Answers and Up Posts determine reputation. After all, that relates to quality of what people say. But it is just a like counter. AFAIK, I don't see how BA in any way increases Reputation either. It's just yet another metric. So, if we take an example, the guy who gets a Best Answer gets no reputation points but if you like an irrelevant post, that will generate tons of "Reputation." Now the user who wrote a witty remark has an even higher reputation than the person who gave a Best Answer and anyone voted "Up" in another topic. In the topic I just posted on my starter site, the user (lawyer) with the witty remark who doesn't provide any really solid advice to answer the question now has a higher reputation than even the person giving the Best Answer on the topic. (4) No Rewards System Anyone who has used this type of a system knows that Reputation creates levels and awards. Without them and without any clear understanding what is going on, none of this works. Unless IPS creates a regimented points system, the ability to assign points for each type of good/bad answer, and the ability to generate clear awards for Reputation, there isn't an way to recognize a true "expert" and thus the incentive of being a thought and community leader is lost.... to "Content Count." That's the metric that has been decided as most important in IPS 4 for user levels AFAIK. And "Reputation" is just a Like contest having nothing to do with the quality of answers nor does it factor into the awards system or raising levels AFAIK either. IMHO, it's the antithesis of what I want my QA experts site to be about - quality over quantity (which can include images, events, etc.)
Thoughts on Recommendations There is a lot under the hood and as I said, I may be completely missing a lot of the logic and options that IPS has put into this particular feature - so my apologies in advance. IMHO, expert forums like Stack Exchange are a whole other animal than discussion forums and I think threaded responses may completely change the way this system is structured. I don't know. I'd include an option for a site owner to scrap the whole up down movement of posts entirely - linear thread only. If I'd keep the up/down, I'd use a Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down system in QA forums and have an option to remove Likes so as to distinguish a Like (of anything) versus an agree/like of a response in an Expert forum. In the alternative if that is too much, I'd remove all Up/Down and just keep the like system and use that as reputation, with Best Answers generating an admin value of the number of "points" of Reputation. I don't see any way of making the Reputation system work with IPS creating an admin set point system to distinguish BAs from Likes and make an awards system reflective of Reputation and NOT of Content Count. Right now I don't know how to use this type of forum and system as a whole but perhaps others with more experience with IPS 4 and the good IPS folks can help lend some guidance. That's where I'm at and thought I'd share my impression, no more no less.
Ego is just an industry term used to describe a driver of community interest. People like getting likes and being liked. That's ego too. Same goes for Friends and Followers. Many people enjoy being liked/appreciated. Nothing wrong with that.