We recently implemented a suggestion from our users to insert the national flag for each user’s country of origin next to their user name after they add a post.
When several users advised us to implement this feature, we had not seriously considered how or why flags would enhance the forum community.
However, after implementing this feature, several benefits became obvious:
- Diversity & Tolerance. Flags emphasize the diversity of the forum and this seems to make people act more tolerant toward one another.
- Background Information. Knowing where a user hails from gives clues about their circumstances. This background information makes it easier to empathize with the user and understand what it’s like to be in their shoes.
- User-To-User Connections. Practically, knowing a user’s general location helps users connect with people from their own country and can signal whether a person is awake or asleep at a given time.
In sum, flags make the forum community experience more engaging. They’re not always useful — e.g., if your community is clustered around a specific physical location and everyone’s from the same locale, flags won’t help much.
But on boards where the user base is spread across the world, flags create an extra dimension that helps users engage with one another.
Assuming your forum has more than 365 members, chances are that it’s somebody’s birthday everyday. With Ninja Post, we recognize everyone’s birthday by automatically inserting a birthday cake next to their user name on their special day. It’s simple and fun without being overly dramatic.
We have considered doing more. For example:
- Display the cake icon next to the user name in the “user panel” at the top of the page.
- Sending users a special birthday greeting in the form of a Private Message.
- Display a special birthday message on the forum homepage for that particular user.
- Create a special page and/or link in the footer that displays “Members’ Birthdays Today”.
Of the ideas listed above, we believe the Private Message is the best way to engage a user. One reason is that this message will reach the user via email so they don’t even need to visit the forum on their special day. In turn, a customized birthday greeting from the site is likely to inspire the user to check into the site and say hello to everyone. People love celebrating birthdays, whether it’s their own or somebody else’s. One of our goals is to tap into this positive emotion.
One of our core values is to make it fun and rewarding for users to participate. We have found that supporting rich media (especially that animated gif where they guy’s head explodes) is crucial to achieving this objective. Therefore, we have gone to great lengths to accommodate users’ increasing appetites for posting rich media such as photos and videos to threads.
For starters, we make it easy to add images and YouTube videos to threads. Secondly, we allow users to upload photos and videos to their profiles. Finally, we provide communities with a Photo Gallery and Video Gallery that aggregates content from individual profiles.
With the last year or so, we noticed a particular demand from users to upload photos from mobile devices. The rationale is easy to follow: camera-equipped mobile phones are now ubiquitous, forum participants are inclined to share their photos, and, as the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Why spend time typing on a finicky, miniature keyboard when a picture can say it all? Adding this feature was a no-brainer. We are incredibly excited that users can upload pics while on the go and we’re keen to see how users incorporate this feature into their communities.
Above: Uploading a photo to the forum from a mobile device.
Ninja Post forum software is fast, nimble, and powerful like Manny Pacquiao. Meanwhile, traditional forum software is bloated and slow like Butterbean. Yes, Butterbean-type software can get the job done, but not in the most elegant way. Feature bloat is ugly and an unfortunate trait inherent in most forum software packages.
We believe that, pound for pound, Ninja Post is the best forum software. Speed and power are combined within a lightweight framework. Threads update in real time, like a chat so the user does not need to constantly refresh the page to see if new items have been posted. Speed, elegance, and power trump an endless array of features. Ninja Post has the most essential features for users in your community to engage with one another.
A lightweight framework that is fast, nimble, and powerful
Can get the job done, but not in the most elegant way
Ninja Post forum software combines the best of both worlds: the speed and simplicity of a chat room and the structure and stability of a forum.
Chat rooms are poorly organized and their content tends to be fleeting: if you’re not there in the moment, the conversation disappears. Meanwhile, traditional forums tend to dilute their conversations across too many sub forums.
Ninja Post provides just the right amount of organization so that users can quickly get up to speed on the latest topics of conversation.
Here is a handy Venn Diagram:
Life is a lot like jazz… it’s best when you improvise. George Gershwin
One inspiration for Ninja Post was borne out of an interview that I conducted with Steve Silberman several years ago. Steve is a co-author of the book Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads and he is a contributing editor at Wired magazine.
Steve noted that The WELL, one of the earliest online communities, was once described as a stage for “brain jazz”: a global improvised jam where knowledge is the medium of exchange instead of musical notes.
To bring the notion of brain jazz to life, every Ninja Post thread updates in real time. We combined the stability of a traditional message board with the dynamic nature of a chat room. This makes the forum experience more fun, interactive, and improvisational.