Not too long ago, we laid the groundwork for our member categories feature by streamlining the management of your existing and prospective members. Now, we're almost ready to roll Member Categories out, and we wanted to give you a preview of the feature and get your feedback on its functionality and a few improvements that we've added along the way.
Create up to 50 categories and assign members to them. All of your members will begin in the default category, called Members. You can create and edit new categories via the Member Categories tab in the Member Management section. A couple of important limitations to note up front: the default category can't be edited, and members can only belong to one category at a time.
When you create a category, you have an option to create a listing page exclusively for the members in that category, and you can create listing pages for up to 5 10categories. When you do this, a new submenu item for the category will appear in the submenu items for Member pages. You can choose the text for the submenu listing, so that you can pluralize or customize it. This is a great way to highlight specific members on the network.
Image and Text Badges
Each category that you create can also have an optional image or text badge that gets added as an overlay on a member's profile picture. Whether you create badges of honor or badges of shame, this is an excellent way to identify admins, reward special members, or just make it easy for visitors to identify different types of members. Text badges are based on the category name, and can be placed at the top or bottom of the profile picture. You can set the text color, background color, and the background opacity for each badge.
Images badges can be positioned in one of the four quadrants of a member's profile picture. We've included 22 badges to get you started, and you can upload and manage up to 50 of your own custom badges.
Text and Image badges will appear in most places in your network, but not everywhere. Right now they won't appear in Chat and in a couple of other places, like the profile images on sign in and sign up pages.
Designers and Network Creators who are comfortable with CSS will be pleased to know that each created category is associated with a CSS class that we're adding to the #xg_themebody div in profile pages. This means you can create CSS styles that will be applied to the profile pages of members in a category. This will let you do things like adjust the background or color scheme of every member of your network who's in a specific category.
Once you've assigned your members to categories, you can use new functionality in the Broadcast Message feature to send a broadcast message to just those members. Choose any category you've created and proceed from there. The current broadcast message includes a subheader with the words "A Message to all members of Network Name". Now that you can target individual categories for messages, that text is no longer accurate, so we'll be removing it with this release. If you like that message and want to retain it, you can add it in manually like this:
<h3>A Message to all members of Network Name</h3>
We're currently targeting Thursday for this release. We'll update this post if that changes. We're excited to see how NCs will use Member Categories, and we'd love your feedback. There are a few enhancements we may add to member categories like the ability to connect a Paid Access subscriber list with a category. There are also a few longer term things you've already told us you want, like category-specific feature permissions (e.g., Blog-only members). Let us know in the comments how you plan to use Member Categories, and once it's gone live, let us know how we can make it more useful for you.
When you do, that will be a game changer for me to sign up for the paid access. Otherwise, the amount for the paid access per month, plus the % over ride Ning takes on paid subscriptions is not worth it, unless you can restrict users and set categories for CHAT, GROUPS, FORUMS, BLOG, PHOTOS, PHOTO UPLOAD DAILY LIMITATIONS and of course, accessing custom pages.
One more thing, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE put in the ability to send out AUTO RESPONSES for member-pending, member approval, member-decline, and member suspend statuses, like Yahoo group features have. This would improve my life 1 million percent as it is labor intensive to send introduction letters and decline letters to everyone.
One more thing... Would also like the member categories and paid feature to have the option to be able to REMOVE the AD Bars at the top for people who have paid for subscriptions, and only be seen by certain categories.
I haven't heard that type of request, but I can see why you'd want it. Not sure if we will be able to do that, but I will pass it along.
Well, if they can't remove the existing bars, then have the option to ADD ad bars and modules for some categories. That way, i could simply assign a "FREE" category, and those users see Ads in addition to the Ad bars at the top (if I have those too turned on... or not)
the hiding the ads shouldnt be hard its figuring out how to have it check your categotry
but if theres a argument attached to the url when you login that would do the trick or a cookie like if you login and ?category=admin is attachedto the url as you browse then the script can look for that and not show you ads
your suggestion i like ..as part of the next generation of this withcategory interaction with paywall and with limiting or granting priveledges
wich i expect to actiualyt come in 2 and 3 generations not 1 update but 2 more rebuilds which i got to tell you will be way more complicated then this 1 so id expect a 4-6 month timeframe at least to see eiother or both generations added
notto mention that everyones adding dozen of other ideas they want wich some may make it to planning and make it take longer
and the fact thers a dozen unrelated updates in the works..and the mobile sites a huge 1
it could be as long as a year before this is completely perfected the way most people hope
i disagree with that entirely i have a purely volunrtary very loew donation systenm set up suggested $2.95 fir a 3 month period many pay only 1 dollar some as high as 12-15 voluntarilty]=y the vast magority nothing at all but month after month its alwat=ys been woirthwhile some months very others just a bit but costs plus havge alwat=ys beejn covered just fine
raising 20 a month is not hard art all
Oh, I agree, and I am doing it WITHOUT the use of NINGS Paid feature. I use Paypal, and embed the donation badges myself. I'm making great money on my site. However, its not the $20 I am worried about, its the % of the money NING gets on the transaction. For me, that would be significant, and I see no value right now in handing that kind of cash over to them until I get the features in return for it. Namely, the ones I mentioned above.
Until then, its a bit labor intensive, but for the money that I am making, its worth it. When the convenience of the Paid feature equals or exceeds the effort I have to put in doing it manually, I will gladly activate the paid feature.
everyone wants 10000 featuresadded today ning has a dozen teams working on a dozen projects that all take months to complete
but is=-f they get an extra 33 cents a cday from a donation its too much to pay them for the months and months of work?
maybe if they had a lil more money theyd have a few more coders and roll oyut updates even faster
ever look at it the other way around?
thanks for this release only i thought it would be more automatic
eg: different categories, members start from the lowest level and progress automatically to the top category according to activity
linked to paid access
also it would be nice if members were allowed to give badges to each other
how it is right now it has to be managed all manually and i am afraid i would have little time to do this
Hey, Joe. I guess one difficulty with making it all automatic is that it is hard for us to assume how everyone would want to use it. But, we have thought about making it easy for new members to be automatically slotted into a category. So, we hear you about making this more automated. This is the first iteration of this, so there's always room for growth. However, I don't think we'll offer multiple badges, partly because there are space limitations in a profile pic. I think you are wanting something maybe a little different: a reputation system with social gaming aspects. That's not what we've planned for this release, but that's an interesting idea.
Yes Eric- in case for multiple badges of course they dont have to appear on the picture perhaps just somewhere on the top area of the members profile page
This sounds very exciting. It'll take me a while to decide the best ways to take advantage of the new features, and love your examples. Great stuff Ning!
Only thing I'm wondering about is how the Member Categories will work. I had hoped to use this feature as a more stable method of assigning Directory Categories. But can see already it may not work well for that purpose, probably just as well to keep a profile question for Directory Category. Plus, it would be difficult to choose the correct Category for a Social Community. So, I'll use this feature to highlight special members, and groups in the future. I'll provide a real example:
I have VIP Members, and they are all in the VIP Group. I would love to move all of their Member Accounts to the Member Category for "VIP", and automatically be removed as a VIP when they leave the Group. aha, a future feature request! If I could move all members of a group, or click on category from their Member Name from anywhere like within the Group Member Management Panel - - it would make the process a lot less laborious to implement. I think this will be true in a lot of cases. In other words: Trying to pull several 100 members from a list of 1000s might not be practical. If we could choose to move all Members of a "Group" to a Category, that would increase the power of this feature exponentially. I'll sure try my best to make this happen for VIP Members. =)
Wow! "...each created category is associated with a CSS class that we're adding to the #xg_themebody div in profile pages. This means you can create CSS styles that will be applied to the profile pages of members in a category."
This ROCKS to say the least! And to be able to send out broadcast to specific Categories is great too! I'm looking forward to trying this out. =) I REALLY LOVE THIS, TEAM NING! And I know I won't be alone.