The Discussions Product
Combining the best of listserves and threaded discussion forums, Discussions is an ideal communication tool to enable Communities to engage in dialog while pushing out and archiving user-generated content. Users receive an easy-to-read email that contains a picture of the author linked to the author’s profile, a link to the online archive where all postings are automatically stored, and a mistake-free link to respond to either the author or to the entire group.
The Discussions product is also known as eGroups. Some CCAdmin pages, User Controls and Parameters continue to utilize the older name.
The way to connect
Discussions are the primary communications tool for Higher Logic Communities.
Email enabled and customizable by users
Discussions are sent to external email of Community members per their wishes. Community members set "My Subscriptions" to determine how, and how often, they wish to see new posts to the Discussions for their Communities. Options include HTML, plain-text, and Daily Digest – a daily compilation of new Discussion posts in a single email. Users can opt out of email delivery altogether should they wish to review posts online exclusively.
Integrated and linked
Discussion posts are integrated with other Higher Logic products. Each post includes the Profile picture of the poster and links back to the Community it serves. As users resAttachments are automatically contributed to the Resource Library paired with the Discussion.
A permanent record
Discussion posts are threaded and available online for a permanent record of communications by the Community.
Adding Users to a Discussion
Discussions serve Communities. The members of a Community enjoy permissions to see posts and create posts for a Discussion serving that Community. It goes to follow that the way to add users to a Discussion is to add them to the Community it serves. Depending on the Community, members can be added to a Community through different paths. Communities established in the AMS can only have Community Members added or removed via the AMS. Other Communities, whether created by Admins or members, can utilize various join paths. A Community can be established to allow joining only by invitation of a Community Admin. Conversely, Communities can be established to allow users to join proactively.
Creating Discussion Posts
A user can be prompted to post to Discussions nearly wherever Discussions can be read - on home pages, on community landing pages, within Discussion threads, and in the email generated by Discussions. Users can post to the discussion through two primary paths - via the website or via email.
Posting to Discussions via Webpages
Posting is prompted across many pages and content displays. Regardless of where the prompt to post or reply is found, users who make a new Discussion post online do so on the same two pages. In the baseline configuration two pages exist for creating new Discussion posts:
- A new thread is started on page code postmessage via the eg:PostMessage user control.
- A reply to an existing thread is posted via page code postreply via the eg:PostReply user control.
Similarly, editing an existing Discussion post always occurs on the same page. This is page code editmessages via the eg:EditMessages user control.
Discussion Editors and Content Previews
Each of these three pages features an editor. The editors allow a user to type or paste-in text and then format it to their liking, including images, links, and possibly creating attachments which will be stored in the Community resource library.
A feature of Discussion editors is the content preview option for displaying enriched content based on URL inputs. When a link to a webpage is pasted within the editor a lookup is performed to capture the relevant image and promotional text for that webpage. This is then used by the editor to create a preview for the content. if the creator of the post does not want to use the preview he or she can click the "remove preview" link within the preview to remove it. A user can also disable the generation of previews with a toggle to "Automatically insert content preview for links" directly above the editor. A user who disables the preview generation will have this preference remembered - a user's previous "yes" or "no" selection will remain for a user until manually changed.
The user controls that display a Discussion editor, eg:PostMessage , eg:PostReply and eg:EditMessages, all have content preview functionality that is on by default. This functionality can be disabled on each of these controls by parameter. The addition of HideContentPreviewOption="True" will disable the content previews and the yes/no toggle prompt above the editor.
The Discussion editor with a content preview for www.cnn.com
Videos and Images in Discussion Posts
There are a number of ways to include images and videos within discussion posts. When it is desired that the multimedia files be housed in a library entry, the Attach button at the bottom of the editor can be used to initiate that process. A slideshow of images and/or a video player will appear within the discussion post when viewed in online content.
It is also possible to include images within the discussion editor without creating a library entry. This can be done through several paths, including drag-and-drop into the editor window, copy/paste directly in the editor from another webpage, and a more traditional upload paths from Insert on the menu bar of the editor or the Insert/Edit Image button on the toolbar.
When images are uploaded they are saved in a user-specific file and can be inserted again without re-uploading. The list of previously uploaded files, labeled "Moxie Manager" can be accessed from the Insert File button on the far-left of the toolbar. This button can also be found on the Insert/Edit Image pop-up modal generated from the Insert File button on the far right of the toolbar. Look to the right of the Source field on the Insert/Edit Image pop-up modal to find the Insert File button.
Posting to Discussions via Email
Posting to a Discussion is also possible via email. The default configuration is to have the reply-to email address of Discussion daily digest and real-time email templates support the creation of thread replies when "Reply" is used within a email platform (such as Outlook or Gmail). New threads can also be started via email to a specific email address for each community.
Security for Posting by Email
Functionality to post to Discussions seems to the user like only the email address is required. However, this is not the case. When an email address for Discussion posting or reply is used the sender's email address is validated. The email must be authentic to a member of the community. If the email address is confirmed as belonging to a community member the email is post is executed for that user. Where the sender email address does not match a user the post is not made, and no further action is taken by the system.
Configuration Options for Posting to Discussions via Email
Disabling All Posting by Email
Reply by email can easily be disable for all Discussions. This is achieved on the Admin site under Communities>Discussions>Setup>Mail Processing Rules. On that page the setting area is second from the top, "Allow Users to Post/Reply via Email". Set this to "Off" to totally disable reply via email.
Real-time and Daily Digest Email Template Configurations
Discussion posts generate email, and users can choose whether they receive messages in real time or in a daily digest. The email generated by discussions are generated using an email template. This template is very configurable, and presents many opportunities to allow or disable reply and new posts by email. Perform the configurations desired via the Admin site under Communities>Discussions>Setup>Discussion Template.
Community-specific New-thread Email Address
The email address for posting a new thread is found in the Admin site under Communities>Discussions>Extended Attributes. The default email address for posting will be based on the community name. A new email address can be created in the "Alternate Community Email Address" field. Note that both the default and the alternate must come from the connectedcommunity.org domain.