Ideas to enhance the Forum experience

sabotagesabotage Member, Moderator, Backers, Ultimate Backer
Please take the following ideas only as brainstorming ideas on how to improve the general usability and experience of the forums, and in no way a complaint or criticism on how things are working now or how the 3D Facture team may choose to move forward with the forums...

I've participated in many forums and open source projects over the years, and one observation that is consistent is that the more anonymous the medium allows it's users to be, the more likely folks are to be easily offended or to offend simply because there is no connection or identity.

Of course that never eliminates or prevents the inevitable TROLL or aspiring empire builder from doing there thing... but, the following ideas are all offered as possible ways to mitigate the effect they can have on the community at large, while at the same time, fostering deeper collaboration with those who wish to do so, and still being informative and relevant to the casual observer/lurker/passer-by.

I spent a bunch of time today reading through the Vanilla Forums documentation, searching their own community forums, and browsing the available "addons".  Below is what I came up with as features and addons that I think could greatly improve how the forums function for all involved, lumped into a few categories:

Ways to foster collaboration & community
Moderation - As things progress, you'll find you will NEED moderators to deal with day to day administrivia of the forums.  Among other permissions, moderators can:
  • Manage spam & abuse queues that are populated by trusted members, making it easy for moderators to take care of issues before they become problems.
  • Manage members abusing the forums or members by, sending them warnings, remove or ban a user and all the user's data, find out if a user has multiple accounts, deal with Trolls by making them invisible to other members.
  • See a roll-up view of all bad content reported by users so they can take action.
  • Post a dismissible messages that can appear anywhere throughout the site.
Groups - Allows for having discussions outside the normal forum category structure in self-contained areas.  This could be a good way to privately work with your Backers or other key stakeholders and collaborators in your ongoing product development.
WhosOnline - Lists the users currently browsing the forum.  It's nice to see who else is online when you are.
User Map - Shows a map with a marker for member locations, should they chose to share that info.

Ways to reward members & help them stand out:
Badges - Not necessarily awards, but rather, signs that point the way to positive participation in a community.
SignaturesUsers may create custom signatures that appear after each of their comments.
Role Titles - Lists users' roles under their name and adds role-specific CSS classes to their comments for theming.
Role Badges - Adds user's role badges under their name in comments (similar to "Role Titles" above).

Ways to provide information & interest
Discussion Polls - A plugin that allows creating polls that attach to a discussion.
Galleries - Create member albums, or create a community album for everyone.  It's an amazing machine, let your users show it off!
FAQs - Adds Dynamic FAQS to your vanilla.
Shane...
imageBacker(Ultimate Package - delivered on July 1, 2015)

Comments

  • Andrew_3DfactureAndrew_3Dfacture Member, Moderator, Backers
    Thanks for providing these useful suggestions, Shane.
    We have added a few features in your list and will try the others later.
    Let's make this forum a better community together.

    Andrew
  • sabotagesabotage Member, Moderator, Backers, Ultimate Backer
    No problem Andrew, I'm happy to help any way I can. I did notice the signature addon, and experimenting with groups and moderator roles.
    Shane...
    imageBacker(Ultimate Package - delivered on July 1, 2015)
  • kniborknibor Member, Backers
    maybe it would be nice if you can set certain topics to watch, so when there's a new message you will get a e-mail notification :) not sure if there's a plugin for the vanille forum tough... but personally I check this forum like 10-13 a day to see if there's something new and most of the time their isn't :p
  • sabotagesabotage Member, Moderator, Backers, Ultimate Backer
    @knibor, this is not exactly what you are asking for, I know, but just in case you didn't know it, you can bookmark any topic (click the "star" icon) and then set your notification options in your profile settings to send an email for new posts to book marked discusssions.  Still not a notification on NEW topics, but saves some time on having to keep checking back ;)
    Shane...
    imageBacker(Ultimate Package - delivered on July 1, 2015)
  • kniborknibor Member, Backers
    ah thanks for the tip :D! that will help at least a little ;) maybe I can cut it down to a daily check than :p
  • sabotagesabotage Member, Moderator, Backers, Ultimate Backer

    Thanks for providing these useful suggestions, Shane.
    We have added a few features in your list and will try the others later.
    Let's make this forum a better community together.

    @Andrew_3Dfacture, just a ping to see if I can bump up the priority of getting the "WhosOnline" addon enabled on the forum?

    It sure would make /me happy ;) and I really do think it will help with fostering a greater sense of community and collaboration between the other members and backers.

    Cheers!
    Shane...
    imageBacker(Ultimate Package - delivered on July 1, 2015)
  • Andrew_3DfactureAndrew_3Dfacture Member, Moderator, Backers
    Shane- the WhosOnline add on is enabled.....but I don't know where to find this function~
  • sabotagesabotage Member, Moderator, Backers, Ultimate Backer
    Shane- the WhosOnline add on is enabled.....but I don't know where to find this function~
    Ah, ok... I just checked on the Vanilla forums community and found this discussion:


    Seems like an alternative is to use the "OnlineNow" plugin instead (and decide if you want to show avatars or names) or, the author of the OnlineNow plugin also provides a newer version of the WhosOnline addon in the last comment of the discussion above.

    Thanks for the effort...!
    Shane...
    imageBacker(Ultimate Package - delivered on July 1, 2015)
  • sabotagesabotage Member, Moderator, Backers, Ultimate Backer
    edited March 2015
    @Andrew_3Dfacture, after I did some more reading and research of the Vanilla community forums, I see now that the "OnlineNow" plugin (http://vanillaforums.org/addon/onlinenow-plugin) is in fact the replacement for the "WhosOnline" plugin (since the original author of it stopped updating it, others forked it and added new features).  Here's a quote from the "OnlineNow" plugin page:

    This plugin is based on who's online by Gary Mardell then modified to have user avatar by peregrine and implemented by vrijvlinder.

    And here is the list of updates in January of this year (so it's clearly still being actively maintained):
    version 3.3 fixed a stupid misake
    version 3.2 removed the tooltip title from the UserPhoto link so it would play better with CustomToolTip, thanks to AaronWebstey for the fix
    version 3.1 I was not satisfied with css functions so I changed a bunch of things and now it works as I want it to even with extra long names.
    version 3.0 fixed the display for Bootstrap
    So, maybe you could try removing the "WhosOnline" plugin and install the "OnlineNow" plugin and see if that works?
    Shane...
    imageBacker(Ultimate Package - delivered on July 1, 2015)
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