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Drum roll please… announcing Achievements!
The Old Man posted a topic in Community NewsWe've just upgraded to the latest version of our community software. The major new feature is called Achievements! Achievements means that we can award our members Points and Badges based on conditional rules! The developers have dreamed up innovative actions for us to publicly recognize members who show up and participate in meaningful ways. It's no longer just about post count. Here’s what you need to know... Badges... they're cool. Your Badges will be displayed around the community but mostly in your Profile. Click on the Recent Badges to go to the full list of your Achievements... Points Our new Achievements Points system keeps a running tally of Points. Members can earn Points in a multitude of ways. Essentially, it’s achieved by participating in the community. Create a topic? Points! Post a reply? Points! Follow another member? Nothing. Just kidding… Points!!! This is mostly done through creating a system of Rules. Er, Rules So Rules are actionable processes set up at the backend. We're not going to give away all of the Rules, that wouldn't be much fun! Here are a few of the more obvious ways that members can earn Points to give you some basic idea: When a... Member joins a club Reaction is given New poll is created User follows a content item Review is posted Member logs in for the first time that day New club is created Content item/comment is promoted or featured Comment/reply is posted User follows a forum, blog, gallery, category etc User votes on a poll User is followed New content item is posted Post is marked as best answer How it works... So... Example: When a member posts 10 times, then a particular Badge is automatically awarded. Our Community Elders can also award certain badges. Some badges are very rare, achieved only the top x percent of our total members! But enough of that! Ranks We’ve completely revamped our Ranks system to communicate with Achievements. Our new Achievements’ Ranks system replaces our previous Ranks system and compliments the Reputation system. You'll notice we've got different Ranks based on how many Points a member earns. Effectively the higher a members’ Rank, the greater their influence because the more they’ve participated. It means a new, fun way to recognize and thank you for your contributions to our community. Wait, where's my custom title gone that I set up after reaching 1013 posts? Fear not, we've been careful to preserve custom member titles, and we've added them your Profiles. Starting from scratch... Aw Hell, no! Rather than starting everyone from today, where everyone is essentially a newbie even though they have been here almost 20 years, we've been busy and recalculated all of your existing posts and content, running it through our Rules system so you'll see in your profile your current points and badges straight away. There’s perhaps a lot to absorb here, but if there’s anything to take away from this post it’s this: We can empower all of our contributing members with fun Achievements, which in turn creates a more immersive and elevated experience for our die-hards. And hey, who doesn’t love to earn? Concerns? Comments? Questions? We’d love for you to sound off with your replies! Not only because we want to hear from you, but because it’ll earn you some sweet, sweet Points, too!
Amazon S3 and Cloudfront = Performance improvements
The Old Man posted a blog entry in TIWWA Staff BlogWelcome to our first update for 2018! The following update isn't that exciting but may be of interest to some more than others but it heralds a faster, more responsive Millennium website experience, which I'm hoping you will notice as from today. As you might expect, our website has grown significantly over the last 15 years and our website community software has become more complex and feature-laden also. Last year, we needed to upgrade to a more powerful cloud-based VPS web hosting solution using SSD (solid state drives) with access to 48 unlocked CPU cores, which saw massive performance increases and cuts to page loading times but also permits more opportunity to tweak performance. As a matter of course, I regularly monitor reports from GTMetrix and other sites such as Page Speed and Pingdom to ensure the site and server is optimised and efficient. Three months ago, after learning more about the dark art of server management whilst I've been ill and waiting for an operation for 12 months, I installed and activated Zend Opcache on the server which is a database caching service. This basically caches database queries so that the results are reused if possible when the same query is repeated again. This means pages are generated more quickly, and we saw an improvement in responsive page loading again, the site just seemed noticeably more snappy! One or two extra improvements never hurt, so earlier today, I got into my Brian Roedecker mode and activated some significantly babe-a-licious server side changes to provide further performance improvements, and to ensure quicker page loading times in order to improve your experience at TIWWA. Amazon S3 Cloud Storage Firstly, our TIWWA community website now makes use of Amazon S3 cloud storage to host the majority of our uploaded member's file attachments and image content. This will free-up space and save resources on the main server. Not only does this include our theme images, CSS and theme templates, but also all emoticons, reactions, profile photos, profile blog and calendar cover images etc, and all existing and future file and image attachments have been shunted over to S3. All member uploaded attachments are now stored on Amazon's S3 service. The S3 cloud servers provide robust storage, and fast delivery of the many attachments and images that make up the TIWWA website. Since the majority of our members and visitors are based on the west coast of the US, I opted to configure the S3 storage bucket to be hosted in N California. Our much loved @beerbelch should see a huge boost! You can learn more here if you are interested, and see a neat video on how it works here: https://aws.amazon.com/s3/ Amazon Cloudfront CDN The second important feature we've activated is Amazon's Cloudfront which is their powerful Content Delivery Network. A CDN takes files, images and attachments and distributes them across the world to various endpoints, where they are mirrored and cached. We've hooked it up to our new S3 cloud storage server in Northern California, so the content is effectively stored much closer to our members and visitors, where ever they reside. The Amazon CloudFront content delivery network is built on the expanding global AWS infrastructure that includes 44 Availability Zones within 16 geographic regions today, with announced plans for 14 more Availability Zones and five more Regions in China, France, Hong Kong, Sweden, and a second AWS GovCloud Region in the US. Amazon CloudFront has 113 Points of Presence (102 Edge Locations and 11 Regional Edge Caches) in 56 cities across 24 countries. What this means in simple terms, is that when say @Libby, myself or other users who access TIWWA in the UK, will now access copies of the image and file content hosted on Amazon's S3 servers mirrored in the UK. Members based in Europe like Alex @SadEyes or @Viivi or the US like @Earthnut and @Walkabout will be accessing the same content from their nearest endpoint. This means a huge boost in page loading times, as well as many other CDN related security and reliability benefits. Learn more: https://aws.amazon.com/cloudfront/ TL;DR *Faster loading and less waiting allows more time for other nice things in life, like pizza! The process isn't fully completed yet, so please bear with us as we complete the transfer of our remaining images and files across to Amazon S3.
New in TIWWA 4.2: Reactions
The Old Man posted a blog entry in TIWWA Staff BlogThis entry is about our TIWWA Community Suite 4.2 release. It is a new feature available to all registered members. TIWWA's Community Suite software has long had a reputation system; first we had a simple up/down number-based system, later updated to introduce a Likes system, tied in with our reputation system. We're pleased to introduce the latest updates to the reputation system, which we think you'll love: Reactions. Quite simply, reactions allow users to offer more fine-grained sentiments towards posted content than a simple 'like'. Reactions are now in common use on many popular social networks, and so users may expect to be able to be more nuanced in their response to something they see here at TIWWA. A little more interesting than simply 'liking' a post, blog entry, gallery image, download review or comment; but of course, 'like' is still an option! Let's see how they work in an example forum post, and then cover the options you'll have available:- At first glance it may look a little confusing but what you see above is a looping animation showing the default Reactions setup, below a post or comment. First it shows the logged-in user clicking on the React feature's 'Like' blue love button (he he - Love is blue - see what I did there?! ). Then it shows the user clicking on it again to see the other available react options in case they want to change from 'Like' to a different one, then selecting 'Confused'. Then it shows the user removing their chosen reaction to the post completely with the X (Remove) button. The gif then loops around to show you again. The software includes 5 reactions by default, but we can add more of our own, tailored to Millennium and our members: Like Thanks Confused Sad Haha Will we still see a total summary for all our posts/comments like the current reputation? A user's total reputation count is still shown alongside their content and in their profile, of course. Can we see who reacted to a post, similar to how we can currently see who 'liked' our posts/comments? As you'd expect, you can click individual reaction counts (or the overall reputation score, if we enable that setting) to view who reacted to the content in a small pop-up window. (On touch devices, on-hover functionality is not suitable, and so for these devices the reactions UI looks slightly different, but works the same). Where can we use Reactions? You'll be able to use reactions anywhere on our site where you can currently like a post, comment or any other price of content. Reactions play well with all areas of the suite, including the new Recommended Replies: ...and see them in activity streams... We hope you're looking forward to this new feature. It's already been a hit on the developer's internal testing site, and we're looking forward to seeing how we can customise it for use on our own community. More to come soon on what we'll be seeing later this summer!
New in TIWWA 4.2: Clubs
The Old Man posted a blog entry in TIWWA Staff BlogWe are happy to introduce the next major feature that will be available at This Is Who We Are - Clubs. Clubs are a brand new way of supporting fun, on or off-topic sub-communities within our site, in other words, providing new improved 'social group' functionality. Let's take a look at the concept with a few demo example screenshots from the software developer's beta test site, and then go over what Clubs are capable of doing! (Above: The Club directory. This is similar to the main forum index page) (Above: A Club homepage, essentially what a specific Club will look like) (Above: Club member listing, showing a particular Club's creators and also the members of this social group.) (Above: Example of content within a club; topics, in this case.) There's a lot to digest there! Let's go over the basic functionality... Club Types Four types of club are available, we may enable some or all here at TIWWA:- Public clubs Clubs that anyone can see and participate in without joining. Open club Clubs that anyone can see and join. Closed club Clubs that anyone can see in the directory, but joining must be approved by a Club Leader or Club Moderator. Non-club-members who view the club will only see the member list - not the recent activity or content areas. Private club Clubs that do not show in public, and users must be invited by a Club Leader or Club Moderator As the site staff, we can of course configure which club types can be created and by whom. We could, for example, enables members to create public and open clubs, but allow a "VIP" group to also create Closed and Private clubs. Obviously we need to give this thought and see how things develop. Club Users Each club has three levels of user: Leader A leader has all of the permissions of a moderator, and can add other moderators. They can also add content areas (see below). The club owner is automatically a leader. Moderators Moderators, as the name implies, have the ability to moderate content posted within the club. We can define which moderator tools can be used. We could, for example, prevent any content being deleted from clubs, but allow it to be hidden. Moderators can also remove members from a club. Users Anyone else that joins the club. TIWWA's staff (Elder administrator and moderator groups), are able to moderate content in any Club regardless of whether they are a member of it. Clubs can be created by any TIWWA user who has permission. As you would expect, this is controlled by our regular member group permission settings, so we may make available Club creation facilities to Patrons, or other specific groups. For closed clubs, there's an approval process. Users can request to join and the request must be approved by the Club's leader. Leaders get a notification when a user requests to join; the user gets a notification when their request is approved or denied. (Above: Approving and declining join requests.) Club Content Club Leaders can add a variety of content areas to their club - forums, calendars, blogs and so on. It's important to note that these content areas are fully functional just as if they existed as a top-level admin created area. They will appear in search results, activity streams, users can follow them, embed links to them, and so on. If a user has permission to see a forum (for example) within a club it will behave exactly like other forums they see - and the same for all other kinds of content. Each content area a leader adds can have a custom title, and will appear in the club navigation. This means, for example, that you can have multiple forums within a club, and give each a different name. (Above: Adding content areas to a Club.) Club Custom Fields Clubs also support custom fields. Custom fields are defined by the site administrator and can be filled in by Club Owners. The values they enter are shown (along with the club description) on the club homepage. (Above: Custom fields in a car-themed club.) On the Club Directory page, users can filter the list of clubs by the custom club fields if they want to. (Above: Filtering clubs.) Club Locations Clubs have built-in support for Google Maps, allowing users to specify an optional physical location for their club. Let's say we run a community for car enthusiasts; each club might be tied to a particular region's meetup. The Club Owner specifies the location when setting up the club, and clubs are then shown on map on the directory page: (Above: Club locations.) And within a club, the location is shown too: Club Display We offer two ways to display club headers within the club - the standard way, shown in the screenshots you've seen up to this point, but we also have a sidebar option. This is something the admin sets globally for the whole TIWWA site, rather than per-club. This is useful if our site design doesn't facilitate another horizontal banner taking up valuable screen real-estate; moving the club banner to the sidebar alleviates this pressure on vertical space. Using Clubs There's a lot of scope for using clubs beyond allowing TIWWA's members to create their own groups. We do not even have to call them "clubs" if that does not suit our case. For example, we could rename Clubs to "Social Groups". This would allow each social group to have its own community, with its own forums, gallery, file sharing and so on, private and separate from other social groups. We could use Clubs for special events or as a home for project teams, like our TIWWA Black Coats community volunteers. The first that occurred to me is that Members will be able to expand on specific aspects of Millennium that interests them, perhaps the bahavioural science and criminology aspects, or Legion, Angels, or perhaps an expanded Mark Snow themed area. Secondly, I can see huge potential for off-topic content, expanding further on some of the existing themes in our off-topic forums... A club for The Donut Hole, a club for Lucy's Pantry, or a TV and Movie Club. You may be inspired to create a club for The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, perhaps a club for the weather, or great 80's TV shows, or a club for horror movies or any other movie genre or sub-genre, cult television series, or for a favourite actor, artist, writer or musician. Like the idea of clubs? Inspired to create one? Let us know... And of course, you don't need to bother with Clubs if you don't want to!
New in 4.2: Letter Profile Photos
The Old Man posted a blog entry in TIWWA Staff BlogThis entry is about our TIWWA Community Suite 4.2 release. It is a new feature available to all registered members. Our Community Suite comes with a default profile photo which is used when members have not set a profile photo for their account. While this model has served the software well for years, our software developers IPS felt it was time for an update to the software to keep pace with current internet trends. This has led to one of the latest changes you can expect to see with version 4.2: letter profile photos. The colors are not set for each letter. You will notice in the screenshot that each "A" letter photo has a different color. They are chosen randomly when generated. More TIWWA 4.2 feature details coming soon. 4.2 will be available this summer.
New in 4.2: Recommended Replies
The Old Man posted a blog entry in TIWWA Staff BlogThis entry is about our TIWWA Community Suite 4.2 release. It is a new feature available for staff, designed to benefit all users. Screenshots are from a test developer's version. Sometimes TIWWA staff may find situations where you want to highlight one or more replies to a content item to bring attention to a really great response. This is especially true on busier topics where you might have dozens or even hundreds of replies in a single discussion. In 4.2, there is now an ability for a moderator to Recommend a reply (or multiple replies)... (Above image: Showing new Recommend Moderator Permission) ... and even leave an optional note explaining why they think you should view that post... ... When a reply is Recommended you will see a snippet at the top of the content item along with the optional moderator note and a link to jump right to that reply.... (Above image: A topic with a Recommended reply.) Staff can Recommend more than one reply and this feature works through the Community Suite in forum topic, blog entries, gallery images, and so on. Staff can set this permission along with other moderator permissions in the AdminCP. Our software developers IPS really think this will allow moderators to bring attention to some of the best replies, and guide users to the best content our community has to offer.
New in 4.2: Content Message
The Old Man posted a blog entry in TIWWA Staff BlogThis entry is about our TIWWA Community Suite 4.2 release. It is another new feature available to staff, designed to benefit all users. Following on from our previous entry about the new Recommended Replies feature, we also have one more small feature change that will be very useful. Content Message is a small feature that will be available in all content areas (forums, blogs, gallery, etc.) and allows a moderator to put a message at the top of any item. (Above image: Example topic with a moderator message) This is useful if we have a special use for the area people are posting in, need to encourage conversation to stay on topic, or perhaps the conversation is becoming heated and moderators need to remind people to behave (never happens here!). Sometimes the smallest features can prove the most useful. I am sure staff will find it useful to have the ability to add custom notes to any area of the TIWWA software suite.
New in 4.2: Calendar Event Reminders
The Old Man posted a blog entry in TIWWA Staff BlogThis entry is about our TIWWA Community Suite 4.2 release. It is a new feature available to all registered members. There are many Calendar related improvements in 4.2 designed to make adding and engaging with events easier than ever before. First of these is Event Reminders. Reminders are easy to create. Simply use the Set Reminder button shown on all future events and specify when you would like your reminder... (Above image: Choose when you would like to be reminded.) Changed your mind? Simply adjust the reminder or remove it altogether... (Above image: Easily adjust existing reminders.) When the time comes a notification will be sent via the member's chosen email or inline method. (Above image: Receive inline or email reminders using the standard notification settings.) Our software developers say that event reminders are a simple but often requested feature and we're excited to be introducing it with 4.2. More to come soon!
TIWWA 4.2 is coming mid 2017!
The Old Man posted a blog entry in TIWWA Staff BlogTIWWA Members and visitors can look forward to the next major release of our community suite software coming mid-2017. Software company IPS are well into development on v4.2 and are excited to start announcing all the new features and improvements. Our next big release is focused on engagement with our members. You will see enhancements to our Reputation system, new ways to encourage people to register on our community, and enhancements to existing features to make them more interactive. There are also entirely new capabilities we cannot wait to show you ranging from new ways to organize content, to tools to help promote our community. Version 4.2 also features a refreshed default front-end design (and for Libby to play with, a refreshed Admin Control Panel too!). Theme changes in 4.2 are mostly in the CSS framework so our existing themes will either work without issue or require minor changes to work in the new version. Over the next several weeks we will be posting news entries with previews of upcoming features. Be sure to follow our Staff Blog or Twitter to stay up to date. We expect IPS Community Suite 4.2 to be out in mid-2017. Everyone at IPS has worked very hard on this update and they think we will love it!
Stability update applied 03.09.15
The Old Man posted a blog entry in TIWWA Staff BlogIPS Community Suite 4.0.13Released 08/31/2015 Key Changes This release primarily focuses on stability with many bug fixes. In addition to dozens of fixes, important items include: When unflagging a member as a spammer, if any tasks are still queued to delete or hide the member's content the tasks will be cancelled. This is useful if you flag a user as a spammer and then immediately change your mind and unflag the member.NO_STEP issue during upgrade should now be resolvedLists were not rebuilding correctly coming from 3.4.xChanged rebuild routines to not use internal embeds as it represents a change from the way content looked pre-upgradeThere were some infinite redirect issues in some cases when Pages was used, particularly when the gateway file was usedFixed an issue related to core_cache and the task not running
Coming to TIWWA in October - features update