TelliTip 26: Get poll results in Excel from Community Server

communityserver My last tip showed you how to get some attention on polls in your user community by using the featured post widget.  If you thought that was neat and you like collecting data then this tip is for you.  I’m here to tell you that you can download detailed poll results to Excel.

1. Create a poll as a post in Community Server forums.

2. Get users to take the poll.  (See previous tips)

3. Find the poll logged in as a site admin.

4. Click “User Voting Report”

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5. Click Export & Open in Excel!

6. Analyze… that parts up to you.

TelliTip 25: Publish Featured Polls in Community Server

communityserverSo you like polling people huh? But you want some more attention for polls so you can collect more user data?  This tip will teach you how to publish a featured poll to the front page of the forums in CS 2008 using the forum post widget.

1. Create a new poll in the forum of your choice.

2. Log into your site as an administrator

3. Visit the control panel and navigate to Site Administration > Customize Site Themes. (That’s this URL off of your community /controlpanel/Settings/ThemeConfiguration.aspx)

4. Pick the sidebar tab (NOTE: This only works for themes that support dynamically themed sidebar content enabled like Hawaii. Custom themers may find themselves out of luck here. Your mileage may very.)

5. Find “Forum Widgets” and use the dropdown to select “Forum Post” and click “add widget”

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6. Click configure on the forum post widget

7. Remember that post you created in step 1?  Well you need the URL and you need to grab the PostID out of the URL and paste it here.

8. Click OK and Save your theme changes.

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TelliTip 22: Creating a QnA forum in Community Sever 2008

communityserverYou can create a forum that tracks answered thread status in CS 2008.  This is perfect for discussion areas designed for customers getting answers to their questions.  To create this experience for your users you’ll need to follow the steps below to first enable thread status tracking for the site & then creating a forum that takes advantage of this.

1. Open the Forums administration portion of the control panel. It should be yoursite.com/controlpanel/Forums/

2. Click configuration & then Global Forum Settings

3. Enable “Thread Status Tracking”  and save

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4. Now that thread status tracking is enabled for your site you’ll need to create a new forum (or alter an existing forum) to use this feature. Click “Forums and Groups”

5. Choose create new forum (or skip if you have already created one) and create the forum.

6. Enabled thread status tracking on this forum by clicking Forums and choosing an existing forum to “Edit”

7. While editing this forum click Advanced

8. In the advanced tab for this forum select “enable thread status tracking” and save.

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Now, when new threads are created they can be defaulted to “question” and you’ll see the status icons next to answered and answered threads in that forum.

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I can’t say that doing this as as discoverable as we’d like in CS 2008, but I can say that this is something that will be simplified in our next release.  In fact we’re improving the whole experience of questions and answers in the next release from initial configuration through finding existing answers.  If you have suggestions feel free to send them my way.

Bring me a hotfix for the weather oh, and the Internet noise

What a wild weather pattern we’re in out here.  Seriously, I pitched in the snow today at our baseball game.  It looked something like the picture to the left… except replace real fans with homeless people that wandered by on Capitol Hill in Seattle. 

Today’s post is another grab bag of my recently shared items.  Enjoy!

I’m glad they’ve found an even better home for hotfixes. Brian is a great high level guy at Microsoft that continues to push the envelope for his customers. 

A new home for Visual Studio Hotfixes
Weve been publishing hotfixes for general download for a year or so now. Via bharry’s WebLog

Ad volume?  This same thing happens with web ads.  Do people really click on bright, flickering ads like a collective of bugs being zapped over and over again?

How Advertisers Shoot Themselves In Their Collective Feet
The biggest challenge for advertisers today is to get people to watch their commercials. Via Blog Maverick

As much as I love how Twitter provides me, as a remote employee, with the opportunity to have “water cooler” conversations it really does up the noise a level on the interwebs.  I help I turned off of audio and visual notifications like I’ve done for Outlook over the last few years. 

Web 3.0 Will Be About Reducing the Noise—And Twhirl Isn’t Helping
It’s my own damn fault. Via TechCrunch

Not a bad attempt… this “offline client” tries to piece together structure from web pages & RSS feeds for web forums.  

Web Forum Reader: Desktop app for reading… well you know
Filed under: Internet, Windows, Commercial Spend a lot of time reading web-based forums? Wish there was a way to sift through new articles without visiting umpteen sites every day and hitting refresh a few hundred times a day? Web Forum Reader is a desktop application that lets you keep read postings from a wide variety of internet forums. Via Download Squad

OpenID for Community Server 2008 is pretty cool. 

OpenID 2.0 for .NET now available
The OpenID open source project for ASP. Via Rob Howard’s Blog

I loved this new twist on a dating site.  Sort of like a combination of your friends + dates + american idol.  This link goes out to my peeps at http://www.zoosk.com/

Avoid Online Rejection, Get Your Friends Involved
Unlike dating in the real world where friends and family provide introductions and serve as wingmen, online dating is usually a very solitary experience. Via TechCrunch

I knew the interwebs loved Obama, but there is a serious online divide.  Know what this means… still more wild Internet growth to be had… unless it’s just more old people voting for Hillary.  Maybe Barack needs a Wii channel to get the old people in between bowling games. 

Stats: Obama Still Winning On the Web
We all know by now that if you could vote on the Internet, Barack Obama would already be president. Via TechCrunch

Crazy Idea of the week… Connect your web forums to twitter and let forum members answer support tweets.

How to Get Customer Service via Twitter
There has been a lot of talk lately of companies monitoring social media, be it Twitter, blogs, or social networking sites, for mentions of their company name and responding to customer service issues. Via ReadWriteWeb

I like the Telligent promotes & gives back to the shared open source world.  

Graffiti CMS Blog Extensions now in Google Code
Earlier this week we published the Graffiti CMS Blogging Extensions. Via Rob Howard’s Blog

You are only going to see more and more web analytics built into web sites in the future… some of those coming from Telligent. 😉

YouTube Updates Layout, Now With Tabs And Statistics
YouTube has quietly launch a new layout on video pages with a new tab focused layout and video statistics (pic above). Via TechCrunch

Will the discoverability of RSS matter or will everyone be aggregating through facebook & friendfeed?

32 Unique RSS Icons usage
Almost all the blogs contains at least one small RSS Icon, which sometimes create nerves to us, if we can`t find it to subscribe. Via WPZOOM

I’m not sure if the post or the south park episode was more timely.

AT&T: Internet to hit full capacity by 2010 (Andrew Donoghue/CNET News.com)
Via Techmeme

Your Guide to Following Josh Online

I’ve been updating some online personas of late and wanted to fill all two of my readers into where I’ll be posting moving forward.

Professional Josh

Personal Josh

The personal me has two main locations

There are lots of reasons for this divide that I’ll explain in a future post on evolvingwe.com.  This is one of the few posts that will be cross posted for reference to site visitors. 

Microsoft Working on a new offline forum client

I wish them all the luck with this.  Personally I’d love to see a really rich Silverlight experience for browsing, reading, and posting when online. You can also tell that he opened one of my favorite old can of worms from the comments in his post.  Who new RSS feeds were aggregated into NNTP anyway?  Where do these people come from?

Via The JPK Experience : Announcing a new collaborative project

The new project…

One of the issues that I’ve heard from a lot of different sources is the need for a tool that would let people read the forums offline, and compose responses when they don’t have an Internet connection. 

Several projects like this have been attempted before, each meeting with varied amounts of success.  We’re going to add another one to the list.

Why this one will work…

This time around we’ve got a couple things going for us to enable our success on this project. 

First, the forums team is supportive of the project.  We’ve talked with them about it, and we’re keeping close ties to make sure they know what we’re doing and so we can get help if we need it. 

Second, since the team has just released a new platform (check it out here) they’re really focused on making it a success.  To the point that providing an API that we can work with has been a high priority.  The API isn’t publicly accessible quite yet, but it should be soon.

What I’m Reading and Writing – Testing a WLW Plugin

 image I have a shared items feed from google reader, but I've been struggling with how to share that content more broadly through my main blog feed.  I didn't like mirroring my shared items since it felt like content stealing and I share more than I write, but at the other extreme I don't generally like blog posts that are links without commentary. 

Today, while at the CSDC, I wrote a simple Live Writer Plugin that pulls feed items from RSS or Atom and can clip a summary. I'll release it later this week, but for now I'll leave it as a tease and just tell you that this post was created with it. 🙂 Let me know what you think of the formatting as I'll be adjusting things during the week.

Via EngadgetDebunk: new Zunes will not have text messaging, but Microsoft's Zune Social community site will
We've gotten a small flood of emails from readers today concerned with a certain page found in last night's leaked Zune support training manuals.

I'm personally hoping to see them leapfrog Apple with the whole "Social" concept. They have a real powerful opportunity even if it's not yet enabled in the client.  I know one person who would agree with me.

Via All FacebookTim O’Reilly at Graphing Social Patterns
Dave McClure just posted the video of Tim O’Reilly’s keynote at the Graphing Social Patterns conference.

Another step towards creating rich visualizations of data that's pretty much public.  I picked this post because the video was timely with what I'd been thinking earlier in the week.

Via Penny ArcadeNews: Dunder Mifflin Spokane
Gabe: I'm pretty frustrated with the Dunder Mifflin Infinity ARG. The site functionality is just trash. The biggest offense is the piece of *** forum they've got. It's the one way for the whole branch to talk together and it's absolute crap.

That just about summed up my experience. I'm still waiting to be hired.

Via MSDN BlogsRising Above the Email Swarm
In todays age of receiving dozens to 100s of e-mails a day, quickly processing these is critical. 

This post both sums up what I've been attempting for e-mail triage and also ads a few great suggestions. I highly recommend it.

Via TechmemeiTunes Plus DRM-free tracks expanding, dropping to 99 cents (Jacqui Cheng/Infinite Loop)
iTunes Plus DRM-free tracks expanding, dropping to 99 cents

I don't need an iPhone. I'm not jealous of people with those things. I don't pretend to swipe my finders across my blackjack screen. I can hold out… at least until the 16gb versions come out. 🙂

Via Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies Team Blog

Announcing the Community Kit for SharePoint: Internet/Extranet Edition Forms-Based Authentication solution!
As many of you know, one of the best new features in WSS 3.0 (and consequently MOSS 2007) is the way it leverage's ASP.NET 2.0 to support for forms-based authentication or FBA along with the ability to support multiple authentication providers.

 Announcing Community Kit for SharePoint: Virtual Earth Maps on SharePoint
Microsoft's Virtual Earth technology powers the maps on Live Search and many other web-based applications, but many people have wondered how to get VE maps to work on SharePoint.

Announcing Community Kit for SharePoint: Windows Live Authentication!
Ever since the Windows Live ID Web Authentication SDK was announced a couple of months ago, many people have asked when there would be a solution for WSS 3.0 or MOSS 2007 to authenticate Windows Live ID users.

Some big releases for a cool codeplex project.

Note: Below here I made the titles non-bold. Let me know what you like better.

Via VentureBeatYuMe, Blinkx latest video ad companies to make splash
With all the video content online, the video advertising market is booming.

How many ad networks can surve?

Via Digging My Blog – Dan HounshellProfessional Community Server Themes
I had the pleasure of working on a great project earlier this year with two very talented co-workers: Wyatt Preul and Ben Tiedt.

This book was anxiously awaited at the CSDC. I don't think the preview copies showed up in time, but I know there are going to be some people, for which, this becomes thier bible.

Via SimpableDitch Confirmations
James Avery wrote a post, "Modals or No more popups" inquiring about modal solutions.

I'm going to try and keep this plugin both configurable, but fast and decision free for the users.  I'll see how it goes. 

Via Seth's BlogThe truth about Radiohead
1.2 million albums sold, $8 each, no middleman, one week: Radiohead Kicks the Middleman to the Curb.

This answers a lingering question I had after hearing about this promotion. How much money did they make per album. I guess, since they don't have a label, that $8 goes much more directly to them as well.

 

Via Read/WriteWebMicrosoft's "Me Too" Strategy: Can the Tortoise Beat the Hare?
Microsoft has lifted the lid this week on a number of products that compete to various degrees with popular Google services.

There is a lot of truth to the theory held by one of my former co-workers that Microsoft as been very successful by never being first, learning from the mistakes of others, and being either a cheaper or better second.

Via Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4LifeSocial Networking Site Platforms: How Developers Should Evaluate the MySpace platform (and others)
I’ve been reading recently that a number of social networking sites are rushing to launch [or re-launch] a widgets platform given the success of the Facebook platform.

I tend to agree.

Via Seth's BlogThe wikipedia gap
I wonder who the first teacher was who said to his class, "Okay, we have ball point pens now. No need to use class time to learn how to use a fountain pen."

I always hated the teachers that wouldn't let us use the advanced functions of our TI-85's.  It saved time and made me smarter. Same with a resource like wikipedia. What people are going to have to learn is how to better quickly evaluate the degree of tint and accuracy to the information they are looking at.

Ok, I think the first test post went well. I found at least 10 things I want to make better with this plugin before I share it with any other users. 

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Fixing The Problem with Niche Communities and Sub-Groups

In the next release Community Server will support "Groups".  I love the feature, but it could create a new problem for community site managers.  How do you manage the creation and population of these sub-communities on your site? 

I tend to agree with Sean and believe that Facebook does a terrible job of this.  And it’s surprising to me because of the way they manage some of the groups functionality.  For example:

Several Telligenti have submitted a request to create a private e-mail based group ala the @Microsoft.com group for folks at Telligent. We don’t get any reply to our request. No follow-up, explanation, or guidance on how to proceed. Facebook is clearly protective about allowing more .com groups on their site outside of the big guys.

The counter example to this controlled growth is found in their general groups functionality where anyone can create, join, and manage their own group.  I think about the only value here, from my experience, is the often humerous group titles that show up in your news feed when a friend joins a group like "When I was your age Pluto was a planet".  After that initial set-up nothing generally happens in the group.  So what’s missing?

What’s missing is one part crticial mass and one part being drawn back into groups like you are drawn back to your facebook profile. Group specific events rarely show up in your news feed and that means you don’t tend to go back.  That problem is easy to solve, but what about the critical mass question.

Lets say, for the sake of argument, that I’m a Red Sox fan.  Lets search for a group to join.  there are over 500 results in the group category of search results. The first page of results is a scattered mess with indistinguishable groups that range between 7 to 5000+ members.  Which group should I join?  Facebook, or any other site that allows groups needs to solve the problem and there are several ways to do it.

1. Allow groups to be sponsored and show them on top. 

This may sound like selling out, but there is value to this. The Red Sox would probably pay Facebook handsomely to sponsor a group. Their official fan groups would be on top of the search results, fans could connect to the Red Sox more closely, and it would probably get critical mass to of people to create interesting discussions and content quickly. 

2. Stop letting people create stupid groups or just delete them.

Or at least put some sort of gates around it. Your group inactive for weeks on end.. it gets deleted unless you do something. The "controlled growth" clearly worked well for facebook as the opened from college to college and from corp to corp… why not use that same request methodology here?

3. Strongly suggest merging groups or joining an alternative.

There is plenty of meta-data available to a social site like Facebook that would allow them to create good recommendations of alternative groups to join if you want to create a public group. The group creation page should show people existing groups that match your request at every step of they way.  This could head off the creation of the the 500th Red Sox group.  Once you do create your group how about comparing the properties of that group with other similar public groups and suggesting a group merger?

4. Improve Search Result Ranking.

I’m not sure how Facebook decided to rank the search results, but it’s clearly not by members or activity since there are several very active large groups on pages 3-10 of the search results of my Red Sox example. There are also dead groups on page 1.  People are going to pick a group on the first page… make it the right set. It would be really simple to rank groups by size. People are drawn to a crowd and the problem might solve itself.

So my advice to community managers it to be careful about how you allocate your niche community groups. It can be a powerful feature for both public and private sets of people, but niche doesn’t have to mean zero activity.

After 3 Weeks at Telligent I’m Already Hiring

I left Microsoft to join Telligent on June 25th, and it's been an exciting three weeks.  I'm learning a lot, having tons of fun, and I think my team is worried about me since I haven't run away screaming yet.  Don't worry, I won't.  These are all fun challenges.  🙂 

What's most exciting to me has been the freedom and the pace.  It was thrilling for me to suggest a change one day and follow-up a couple of days later only to find out it had already been pushed live to the site! 

If you didn't know, my team owns creating a managed experience for customers that want their communities hosted with additional services such as new development, moderation, training, etc.  Today we manage several Microsoft communities such as Silverlight.net and Asp.Net, and one of my challenges has been figuring out how to standardize this offering so that we can take on additional business. 

I'm also excited about the opportunities we have to build onto the enterprise SKU of Community Server.  Specifically we're looking at things like improved cms, moderation assistance tools, reporting services, advertising platforms, and deeper social networking integration services.  There's lots of ways to grow a product like this, and since our team will be running large scale communities, we'll have the opportunity to leverage the new stuff first. 

If you'd like to be part of the team we're building, you should know that I'm hiring and I expect to be hiring for a while. At the moment, I have two open positions for developers. I wrote up the official descriptions here. Feel free to contact me if you are interested.