More Latest Activity Feed Improvements: What's New with "Top News"

If you follow along with the announcements here on the Creators Network, you'll know that we've been making gradual improvements to the Activity Feed since we revamped it last summer. Most recently, we added Sharing and Liking capabilities directly in the feed, and we added Top News, a secondary feed that can include new content types like Facebook and Twitter posts.

We have some more improvements to the Activity Feed for you today, as well as some insight into additional items we may add to the Activity Feed in the future.

First, we've moved the Top News beta to the Ning Labs section. This is still a beta release, so you'll need to turn it on if you want to try it out. You can turn it on or off directly from the Ning Labs section. As always, if you're uncomfortable with a beta release, you may want to wait. But, if you're ready to try something new, go turn it on. (These updates we're writing about are now live.)

Second, during the initial beta we saw that some Network Creators had trouble setting up their Facebook and Twitter feeds using the Social Feeds feature. So, we added automatic validation of the feeds. If you try to insert a Facebook or Twitter feed that doesn't exist, this feature will be smart and indicate that the feed isn't valid. One important detail around feeds is that they will need to be fully public to be usable in Top News.

Next, we have hover cards. Now, when you mouse over an item from Facebook or Twitter, you will see information about the account that posted the content. This may include information such as who has liked it. It's a mini preview of some of the details. You may have seen something similar on other sites. Very convenient. 

Those are the main things we've added to the Activity Feed for this round of improvements, but we will definitely be adding more. To that end, we'd like to know which of these possible future improvements would be ones you'd like to see:

  • Real-time indication of new Activity Feed items added that would prompt viewers to click to refresh the feed.
  • Ability to enter Twitter search terms or hashtags, which will pull in relevant tweets and display them in the Activity Feed.
  • Visual design improvements to be more consistent across all of the different content types.
  • More social feeds like YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., as well as specified RSS feeds.
  • Ability to add additional Twitter accounts.
  • Ability to pull in a thumbnail as a preview of the underlying content that appears on Twitter or Facebook.

We are spit-balling ideas like this, so feel free to let us know which of those sound most attractive to you. They won't all happen, but some of them probably will. As always, we want your input before making our final decisions.

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Yay! All of the above please LOL :)


To be honest I would just like the top news post to stay in the top news itself for more than an hour. Ive mentioned this before and so have others. Ive disabled top news again because of this. I wanted to use it as a news feature just coming from the creator as a good way to keep notifications on the feed. It works ok for a while, you type a message and then it shows up in both feeds which is great and the top news just shows the message or messages from the creator. So far so good but a while later the top news section then clears itself out and so is empty. I posted about this several times and on the last post you did about this feature but nothing came of it. So I can't really offer any comments of the above until the original feature is working.

Here is a link to one of my posts about it

That is filed for our team, John, so we'll be investigating that. Remember it's still in Ning Labs so we will have to work out the kinks as we go.


Thanks Alex. I thought I would mention it here as its a fresher post than the one I mentioned it in before so you guys would see it. I appreciate it being in Ning Labs still so hope this helps iron it out a little.

Sorry for the amount of posts im making lately about problems, it seems as though im putting a real downer on the ning product but believe me im not as I think its a fantastic product and for the amount of networks you guys have you do a sterling job. Im just trying to clear a few items up before I launch another Ning network im creating and would like to make sure its all good before it goes live. As a previous database programmer I know the troubles with code and debugging so I understand where you guys are coming from. John


Very interesting, many thanks Alex!

Regarding possible further improvements: 

  • Real-time indication of new Activity Feed items added would be a real killer feature. 
  • Twitter search terms:  nice. I can see some interesting potential here. Certainly worth a try.
  • Everything else:  meh. Are there strong use cases around for these? 

I have heard a few of these asked about before, but none of the last few have strong use cases. I did see a lot of requests for RSS feeds in past conversations. 

I will go with the Real-time indication of new Activity Feed items added that would prompt viewers to click to refresh the feed. This is important and must be pursued to actualization. Well done Ning team.

And this More social feeds like YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., as well as specified RSS feeds.

This is a nice step in the right direction. The activity stream IMO should be the fuel line for the entire network. Earlier today someone posted a link to govloop - I love what they have going on there. Why not tabs for blogs, forums, news, just makes perfect sense. Rather than areas on my main page for each of these sections it can all be nicely contained in a much improved activity stream. Having said that the hashtag idea, and being able to add other twitter accounts is also a nice touch.


What's Up With Ning 3.0?

Click here to share your thoughts on what features we should develop next! - Survey will close Friday, 4/25

Projects that the Ning 3.0 Team is currently working on: 

Articles - a new way of organizing longer content pieces. Released 4/16.

Activity Feed Updates - options for more content in the activity feed.

Forum Notifications - ability for members to opt into receiving notifications of new discussions in forums. Released 4/9. 

APIs - The ability to create new members and content programatically.

For more information on what's next, visit the Product Roadmap

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