When Vanilla was first release, not only did we change how traditional forum software did things, we also changed how some things are labeled. Today we will focus on two of these things: Messages and Announcements.
A message is a way to inform visitors or members of your community of news, events or anything you wish to share. You can also add basic HTML to your message. You can access it from the appearance menu, under "messages" in the Vanilla Forums dashboard. Once you click "Add Message" you will see the following screen:
Here are the items you can configure:
- Page: From this menu you can determine where on the forum your message will appear, for example: just discussion pages, profile pages or even all pages.
- Category: Choose the category it appears in.
- Position: It can appear above content or on the sidebar.
- Appearance: Select the type of message; for example is it a casual message, an alert or a warning. This is also where you can decide if users can dismiss the message. Most importantly this is also where you can control to enable the message, before you save it.
Some people may know this is other forum software as a "Sticky". An announcement in Vanilla is a way to "announce" a discussion at the top of recent discussions or at the top of a category even as other discussions are added. Ways you can use this include such things as welcome posts, forum rules or other content you want to ensure your community sees.
How to make an Announcement
There are two ways to set set a discussions as an announcement:
You start a discussion with the intent of it being announced. In this scenario, after you finish writing the content, in the editor window you have a choice of radio buttons, which look like the following
You have the choice to not announce, to announce (or sticky) at the top of a category and finally, you can announce in both a category and in recent discussions. You can set this right away or change it as needed later on by editing the discussion.
The second way you can announce a discussion is to use the gear icon and select your announce option preference.
One cool feature, for regular users of your site, is the ability to "dismiss" announcements. This allows users to basically dismiss an announcement after they have read it.
Please note that announcements are not deleted, and can be brought back by clearing one's cookies or clearing the cache.
Communication is key, but don't overdo it
While announcements and messages are important in communicating with your community, you can also easily annoy your members too. A community manager should review messages and "announced" discussions to keep only the most recent/ important ones. There is no worse user experience for a forum than a first page full of messages and announcements.
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