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Category: Grassfire Social

Groups & Forums = Happy Content Marriage

Groups & Forums = Happy Content Marriage

PROFILE NOTE: Eric Odom is the community architect and lead developer behind the Grassfire Social Environment at Grassfire.com (Sister site to LibertyCube.com). You can contact/connect with Eric with any questions or comments about GF Social on his official GF social profile by clicking here


Discuss this topic in the forum located here.

Early last year when we were working in the Beta platform of the new Grassfire Social we discussed a desire to see heavy emphasis placed on groups. Groups are key to organizing members around issues, places, people and things. These had to be at the core of our environment. But we also wanted to see forums on the site and that’s where the challenge came about.

You see, there are two primary ways of publishing content into the Grassfire Social platform.

  • Publishing updates/links/media into the activity feed
  • Publishing forum topics & replies

We had these two working great when we came of out Beta. Problem is they were two completely separate animals all together. We had a group for Texas, for example, but then in the forums we had a discussion category for Texas. And if someone posted in the Texas forum, that discussion topic was in no way connected to the activity feed or the actual Texas group.

Yeah… that’s a problem.

So the decision was made to scrap the standalone forums in favor of marrying forums directly into groups. The bad news is we weren’t able to salvage or import the old forum discussion topics into groups because there was no real coherent way to categorize them. The good news is now the entire systems runs a LOT smoother!

So here’s how the new system works with forums and groups working together as one.

Each group now has an activity feed/wall AND a discussion forum. Now you might ask… why both? And the answer is the two play very different roles in managing content.

  • Activity Feed/Status Updates – The activity feed/wall is not really designed for long term, properly archived online conversation. This is more designed for quick status updates where other members can be tagged and quick daily conversation can take place. Once a status update gets a few days old it kind of gets… lost in the fuzz of all the new activity across the network. So status updates into the activity feed are great for quick conversation. Think of it as the lobby or cafe. You won’t be there long but you still might have a discussion while passing through.
  • Forums – The forums are for much more extensive debate and discussion. Forum threads are very well archived, you can subscribe to them, they have a full visual editor, you can follow them and you can see them in your profile. While the activity feed is for lobby chat, forums are for more in depth, meaningful conversations that can go on for weeks, if not months or years.

Your topics, content, replies and activity will ALL show up in the main feed. Forum posts and activity status updates. So when deciding which to use, just ask yourself if you’re looking for a discussion that could be relevant a week from now or is this something that people may only engage with today? Quick hits go to activity, long term stuff goes into the forums.

And don’t forget that forums now belong to groups. So to participate in conversation about Radical Islam, for example, you want to join the Islam Watch Group to ensure your topics are best categorized and relevant. This helps keep the site properly categorized, but more importantly it will begin developing groups of members around each issue, place, person or thing.

And THAT is the goal!

Hopefully this helps explain the way groups, status updates and forums work on the new Grassfire Social.

– Eric Odom

Discuss this topic in the forum located here.

 

Grassfire Social: Leaderboards & Influencer Point System

Grassfire Social: Leaderboards & Influencer Point System

PROFILE NOTE: Eric Odom is the community architect and lead developer behind the Grassfire Social Environment at Grassfire.com (Sister site to LibertyCube.com). You can contact/connect with Eric with any questions or comments about GF Social on his official GF social profile by clicking here


Yes, Grassfire.com is designed as a social environment that is in some ways modeled off of other social networks you might see online. The platform has a lot of features and functionality common with other social networks.

That said, Grassfire Social certainly has its own unique set of qualities. We never set out to be just like the other guys. We wanted to see basic features like chat, messaging, groups, profiles, activity feeds/walls, etc., but we designed the platform to be much more than that.

While Grassfire Social is certainly a place where members can post non-political status updates, share news about anything under the sun and engage on whatever topics we like, at the heart of the network the objective is to help people connect politically. And to do so without censoring content that stands in alliance with the basic principles of liberty.

Unlike the liberal utopia where winners shouldn’t be rewarded and putting in extra work shouldn’t be noticed, we acknowledge that building a social community cannot happen without, well, without the community building the community.

Very active users who constantly connect with others, engage with content shared in the activity feed and generally help others find their way in our social environment are incredibly valuable. And we don’t ever want to see our most dedicated members overlooked.

So to help ensure we always see loyal and dedicated members we’ve built a point/leaderboard system that tracks activity across the site through an algorithm that assigns certain point values to specific actions. This isn’t in place to suggest those who don’t have a lot of time for the network aren’t valuable. Not at all.

This is simply a tool that helps Grassfire know who is carrying a lot of weight in building the community, who is becoming heavy influencers across the platform and it also helps members know who they can turn to for help or guidance in using the platform.

THE GRASSFIRE LEADERBOARDS

So without further ado, we want to introduce the Grassfire Leaderboards. The leaderboards track, in real time, the top 25 members across the entire social environment.

++ Click here to check out the leaderboards now

The algorithm is fairly simple and straightforward. Points are rewarded for things like logging in each day, liking or commenting on status updates, posting updates, sharing news/images, connecting with others as friends, joining groups and more. Certain activities have higher point rewards, and occasionally bonus points are awarded.

Now we certainly don’t recommend you try and game the system. In all honesty that will take too much work and effort. The easiest way to quickly see a jump in your point tally is to connect with others (find friends), engage in the activity feed and share a few things each day. The points rack up pretty quick with that simple formula.

Eventually (hopefully sooner rather than later) we’ll be hosting contests and offering prizes for top ranked members and members who rise quickly over a short period of time. This all as a thank you for helping us build a community of like minded, liberty loving Americans.

Is the point system a must? Well, you can’t really opt out. But you can certainly ignore it. Some may like it, some may not care. But that’s the beauty of freedom! Choose to take advantage of the things you like about our platform and ignore the rest!

In any event, we truly do appreciate all who have jumped in to help us build the network. We know it’s still in its early stages and doesn’t come without occasional frustration. But it has been an honor to create something and see so many utilize it on a daily basis.

Thank you for that.

-Eric Odom

Click here to connect with me on Grassfire Social.

GRASSFIRE SOCIAL: Using the Two Main Activity/News Feeds

GRASSFIRE SOCIAL: Using the Two Main Activity/News Feeds

PROFILE NOTE: Eric Odom is the community architect and lead developer behind the Grassfire Social Environment at Grassfire.com (Sister site to LibertyCube.com). You can contact/connect with Eric with any questions or comments about GF Social on his official GF social profile by clicking here


Our new social network uses an activity feed/news wall very similar to the kind of feed/wall you might see on other social networks. The feed is in its infancy stages, to be honest, and will likely go through significant changes in the near future as we enhance the activity experience and perform upgrades throughout the network.

That said, it is functional and quite powerful in terms of getting access to activity across the social network at Grassfire.com. Most users have no issues with the way the activity stream works. There are a few, however, who have asked about the fact that there are actually two activity streams available for use across the network.

Indeed, there are two activity streams. I want to walk you through the two, why there are two and how best to use the two when interacting with the network.

The Main Activity Stream

The Main Activity Stream is the stream of activity you will see when you login and visit the “logged in” homepage of Grassfire.com. The below image gives you a preview of what it looks like today.

The Main Activity Stream is and always will be global. In other words, the main page of the “logged in” network provides an overview of all activity across the network. This will show you the latest news items, the latest forum posts, users who were recently active, who is actively online and the latest status updates from across the site.

Because this is designed as an overview page the status update posting feature here is a little more limited vs. what you see on your personal profile activity stream. Your profile activity stream enables you to link in YouTube videos, images and external story URL’s. The Main Activity Stream does not. You can do a basic status update from the homepage, but in order to do more detail status updates and information sharing you’ll want to use the profile activity stream.

Hopefully that explains the Main Activity Stream you see when you visit the homepage of Grassfire after logging in.

The Profile Activity Stream

The Profile Activity Stream places all of the emphasis/focus on the activity stream itself.

Unlike the main overview page, the Profile Activity Stream enables you to sort what activity you see, who you see it from and more. Additionally, as mentioned above it also enables you to share rich media using video links, images or external links that reveal image and content previews.

We recommend using the profile activity stream when sharing items across the network. The main stream can be used for basic status updates and status update conversation.

It should be noted that as the network grows the Profile Activity Stream will cease to be global. Meaning, you won’t see ALL status updates in this stream as it will be limited to people you are actually connected with.

IN CLOSING

Now, you may be asking… why can’t the main stream just do everything the profile stream can? And that’s a fantastic question!

The answer isn’t so cut and dry, though. The short version is we don’t have armies of engineers developing the infrastructure of the site. With this being the case we have to be mindful of what resources we use and where we use them. It’s surprisingly easy for one little piece of code to break the entire site, or one section requiring so much of our resources that it bogs down the rest of the network.

By splitting the workload between the two streams we are limiting the resource drain. This may change in the future as we scale, but for now it works and doesn’t overwhelm our system.

That’s it, that’s all. See you in the activity threads!

Eric Odom