Mark Purser

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COO at UNA Inc. Passionate about digital connections since the beginning. Talk to me about your projects and inspiration. 

The UNA-verse has been rapidly expanding in recent months - with many new modules added, this created multiple issues that the team have devoted maximum time to ironing out.

RC11 has been released and contains lots of fixes of issues that presented in RC10. RC10 was feature rich, with a lot of those new features still filtering in, the team have devoted maximum time to ensuring that all the ensuing bugs were sorted out. 

With RC11 smoothing out the operations of UNA - the advent of UNA 10 seems ever closer.

With that said - whilst there were not any major new modules added, there were a few new tweaks that are worth a look; 

Analytics Module - Export Reports via CSV - simple but vital, export your analytics data out of UNA into a shareable format, ready to be utilised wherever it needs to be.


Spaces - New Browsing Block with Top Parent Spaces only. - This helps to simplify the top level of taxonomy, so you can present a page with just the Top Level of Spaces only.


Payments -  Enable/disable payment providers via Studio. A tweak to the Payments Module - we can now switch on and off which payment providers are displayed in our payment gateway.


Channels: add ACL action 'create channel auto' #1619 - This feature gives admin power to designate via Permissions Builder what levels of users can create new channels based on hashtags. 

With UNA RC11 - the angels are in the details - the full list of fixes and enhancements is on Github - https://github.com/unaio/una/projects/10

 The attention now moves towards improving documentation and training - and of course preparation for the UNA10 version release. 


This is an interesting observation that I have been discussing with a client recently - how certainly social networks actually encourage outrage and anti-social behaviour to increase engagement. In particular I've noticed that the Facebook Community groups, which are popular havens for community engagement are particularly nasty places, an outlet for trolls, bullying and abuse.

We are all a fairly decent bunch here on UNA.IO - but this culture of outrage is an interesting evolution of many large social communities, particularly when you consider that the publishers are quietly supporting the behaviour.


https://www.livemint.com/Opinion/MZpWbwrUb5AvrbDuVLUcbI/Opinion--Social-media-is-turning-us-into-nasty-people.html

Learn how to edit the content pages like "Terms of Service" and "Privacy" using the Pages app in UNA Studio.

Before coming to UNA I have come from a digital communications background, working mainly as a media strategist, producer and copywriter. In the previous millennium I worked with print media doing similar sorts of things, but in newspapers and magazines. I just did the math - I’ve now worked with clients helping them to solve communications challenges for over 25 years (yikes, I’m old!).

The technology has evolved immensely, but the objectives have always remained the same. We are trying to connect humans with information. People with ideas. To develop and evolve community. A better understanding of the world. Understanding products and services that could make our lives a little bit easier.

Where there are people, there are problems, and it is the nature of humans to seek solutions to those problems. It is our nature to expand, to connect, to learn and to grow. We seek these answers through the same channels we always have, through our communities, through the social knowledge base that binds humans into humanity.

From pow-wow around the campfire, to the Guttenberg press, letters to the editor and talkback radio (all still going strong!) In the new frontier we have seen brochure websites, discussion forums, the blogosphere, digital learning and the evolution of the social network.

So where is the game now, where is the edge in the evolution of human communication?

The last decade I have been immersed heavily in the Blogosphere - I love writing and blogging and the playing field this has brought together marketers with quality products and good stories to tell. Blogging has been developed into an art-form, Content Marketing now a buzzword with some great players in the space. Over the last decade I’ve been a huge fan and avid user of CopyBlogger.com - I love the i way that they attracted users to their site by using Content Marketing to teach people about Content Marketing - (their core product is Wordpress templates) - they have built a thriving business of teaching people how to write for the web - sooner or later most web writers are  going to be interested in Wordpress.

But recently I have seen the Blogosphere becoming stunted - primarily by the relationship that blogs have with their community members and the trepidatious relationship the Blogs have with the social media networks.

Large social media networks have essentially used the Genius and Industry of bloggers to leverage YOUR customers in THEIR platform. Also the structural limitations of Wordpress Platform inhibits a lot of what can be done once you have brought people into your site - without a fundamental restructure, Wordpress is never going to cut it as a Community Management System.

There have been limited attempts to connect Blogs with Social community, but I personally haven’t seen any shining examples, mainly because the great tools haven’t been available, until now.  Wordpress, Squarespace and other popular blogging platforms are very cool, but they run into a wall when trying to manage multiple profiles and communities.

I’ve been toying around with this concept for a while, targeting Bloggers seeking to enrich their relationships with their readers, offering all the 'cookie content’ Blogs/E-Learning Course/E-Books  - essential taking ‘Blog Readers’ on a journey to becoming ‘Community Members’. So they come to your site to seek knowledge, expand on that knowledge and connect with new friends interested in the same knowledge - ultimately feeding back into the knowledge base and supporting others members to learn as well. You Social Community Website should become a place where they broadcast their own content - where they can come to express themselves and build their own sphere of social influence.

So Here Are the 3 Dimensions of Customer Engagement, According to Mark;

Dimension 1 - Engage With Your Content

 Customers Come looking for Inspiration and Answers to their Problems

  • Blogs
  • Articles
  • Social Feed
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Surveys
  • Emails
  • Lessons

Dimension 2 - Engage With Each Other

    Your Customers Become Community Members, they meet other people seeking answers to the same problems, they build trust, build rapport, make friends and frenemies.

  • Social  Engagement within YOUR community
  • Groups
  • Chat
  • Discussing ideas
  • Collaborating

Dimension 3 - Engage With Themselves  

    They develop expertise, and authority within your community, establish a presence, a sense of identity perhaps a professional purpose.

  • Publishing their own content
    • Posts
    • Videos
    • Blogs
    • Lessons
  • Building their own sphere of influence.
  • Begin Selling their products and or services through your community.
  • CRM - managing their own data, subscriptions, grades etc

With the UNA platform we have built a system that can achieve all of this - it is capable of delivering infinite potential solutions, so this focus on Bloggers looking to expand their scope beyond the limitations of Wordpress is just once instance, but one that is of particular interest to moi. 

I’m hoping to expand more on this field over the coming months - ultimately weaving my great loves of Blogging, Social Community Development and E-Learning together as we develop UNA.IO into the go to destination for all there is to know about developing thriving Social Communities in the Age of UNA.

What are your thoughts?  Are there any Bloggers out there? - Please connect, I'd love to learn more!

Reposted Andrew Boon's post.

This is an existential question a software developer has to answer nearly every day. Should we create a setting or just do something the way we see is right and if someone doesn't like it - so be it. 

In theory, it is preferable to make - everybody wins and there's always a "yes" answer to every question. In practice, making everything customisable inadvertently leads to bloated architecture, compromising and in some cases - even more limitations than a one-sided choice would cause. 

Case in point - presentation of comments. First, we have to decide if we should show the latest first or newest first.  Second, threaded or flat. Third, to paginate or load-up. Forth, how deep to nest. Fifth, how many to preload in cards. Sixth, how many to load on-page. Seventh, how much to show if the comment is too long. Eighth, what attachments to allow and how to treat them in preloaded comments. Ninth, what author info and actions to allow. Tenth, how to permalink - to anchors or to dedicated pages. The list goes on and on and on. 

Now, different webmasters have different ideas on what is the "right" way to display comments. So, we do have to have some degree of customisation... but how far should we go? Mind you, every tiny setting creates an additional computational load to the hosting server, requires some form of documentation and leads to inevitable support overhead. It's a tough call, every single time. 

Most of the time we treat UNA as a customisable platform and try to make all features configurable. For many aspiring community startups, it translates into a steep learning curve though, and we can't help but think that if we took a more opinionated approach we could offer a really sleek, robust solution that does fewer things, but in an exceptionally good way. 

Luckily, the platform architecture allows for various approaches and so we will indeed bring a "just works" layer in a form of a UNA App to try and see if it would solve the initial adoption hardships and streamline deployment for projects that don't need very specific design. It will be a "Just One Thing" product and the first preview is due in a matter of days. Stay tuned!

Mark Purser added a discussion

This is an open discussion, many of you are Social Media connoisseurs, I'm interested to know, from your perspective, what are the common features that make a Social Network fly?

Perhaps it is a great niche idea? Or maybe they were the first to implement groovy functionality? Or perhaps they just got lucky? Or maybe it is a symphony of multiple factors. There's a few experts here, I'd love to know your thoughts, feel free to share links to example sites as well.

My ideas are in the comments! 

Reposted Andrew Boon's post.

This is the #1 pain point for us. 

There is some excellent information in this VLOG update from Andrew Boon - Andrew gives an excellent breakdown on The Data Transfer Project which is an extremely exciting development for independent social community developers... Also providing some worthy info on considering which modules to include  when designing and estabilising your UNA site... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9RplIyUj6c&t=1454s 

Reposted Andrew Boon's post.

UNA.io reached 2000 members. ✌️

Reposted Andrew Boon's post.

Weekly vlog - Update #2. Talking about DataTransferProject; actions throttling in UNA; HipChat acquisition and the fate of Jitsi; differences between content modules and the new video-uploads handling in Jot Messenger.

Promoted

The UNA RC9 Update is with us. Building upon the Enhancements of RC8 and adding in a few more sweet features as well. You might have noticed a slightly new look to this UNA site and perhaps you own site as well. This is  partly due the fresh Font Awesome Pro update, which we outline below. Andrew has also adjusted the page layout slightly, shifting the focus of UNA to focus on support for UNA Platform.

Within Timeline Module you can see new post form for with tabs allowing posting of different content items to different contexts from single location. There are also a whole bunch of other tweaks and enhancements, many of them responding to your requests, our Design & Dev Team is endlessly innovating and enhancing to ensure that UNA becomes and remains the best Social Community CMS on planet earth.

There are also some important notes outlined below to consider that will fix and issues that you might encounter during the version upgrade. 

New modules

  • FontAwesome Pro - https://una.io/page/view-product?id=128 
    🆓 FontAwesome 5 system support, including style prefix.
    🆒 FontAwesome Pro module for all paid plans. Add more icons and a new "light" style. 

Font Awesome Pro brings a burgeoning collection 2000+ icons to your fingertips that will freshen up the look of your site and is easily updated with UNA. And best of all there is no subscription cost - Font Awesome Pro is free with all UNA Pro Plans.

System Enhancements

  • United post content form - #1347

New Post Form with tabs allowing posting of different content items to different contexts from single location. You can create Discussion, Blogs, Poll or Updates seamlessly from the same interface.


  • New uploader with client side image resizing - #1354

Integration of Dropzone.js file uploader which offers copy and paste directly into the post and drag and drop functions. Making the UNA UX much more fluid.



  • Updated "Profile stats" block - #1341
  • FontAwesome v5 - #1346
  • Lockout mechanism for incorrect login attempts - #1310
  • More stronger passwords are now required - #1309
  • Manage reports functionality - #1258


  • Age checking for "date" field - #1130

This Enhancement is a direct response to community feedback, many of you were concerned about not being able to limited the age range for joining and searching within UNA. Yo u expressed that this was a pressing issue and requested that we fix it straight away, so we did. You can now set the age range for joining your site, which will inform the min & max values for search.


  • Studio Pages: ability to select site submenu in page options - #1273
  • Studio Pages: page design selector in page options - #1363
  • Studio Pages: possibility to work with pages from template modules - #1333
  • File extension is now checked before the upload - #1382
  • Relocate to homepage by default after login - #1314
  • More informative message when module update failed - #1279
  • Comments: "More" button was moved to actions menu - #1391
  • Automatic 'dynamic' mode detection for forms - #1345
  • Service method to return specific form object - #1329
  • Service method for universal "browse" function in profile based modules - #1272
  • Possibility to customize SVG loading indicator via template - #1320

Modules enhancements

  • Timeline: setting to show/hide toolbar in HTML editor - #1405
  • Timeline: allow profile owner and group admin to pin items in their timelines - #1388
  • Timeline: new algorithms for "Hot" sorting - #1291
  • Posts: separate "cover image" field - #1364
  • Videos: video thumbnail is now a link to the video - #1380
  • Videos: cover/poster image display remake - #1324
  • Persons/Orgs: new option to "disable profile activation" letter - #1374
  • Persons/Orgs: active profiles block with showcase view - #1306
  • Persons/Orgs: show "0 Friends/0 Followers" in browse unit meta into - #1312
  • Events/Groups/Spaces: author is now a member and an admin of created entry automatically - #1383
  • Events/Groups/Spaces: display cover image in Timeline if it's available, otherwise show thumbnail - #1292
  • 50+ bugfixes

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  • Site may remain in maintenance mode after upgrade when SMPT Mailer module is enabled, in this case check logs/upgrade.log for any errors if everything is ok, then just delete .bx_maintenance file from the root UNA folder.
  • If you have Froala editor module installed, then you need to install new FontAwesome Promodule to have toolbar correctly displayed in the editor.
  • Froala editor may display message about the license error, then just clear your browser's cache.
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