Recently, I did a non-scientific poll among some Vanilla Community Managers to get a list of their favourite features. I thought this would make an interesting list, as some of these features are not as well known as they should be. In no specific order, here are the top 10:
1) Reactions: Reaction are one of Vanilla's most popular features. It's one of the main drivers of Vanilla's reputation and content curation system. Did you know that there is a reaction only visible to Moderators? The Promote reaction assigns 5 points to a comment and automatically puts it on the Best of page. You can learn more about reactions here, or check out this tutorial video.
2) Badges: Out of the box, we give you some standard badges, but you can create your own badges to give your community its own distinct personality. Users can also request badges too. You can learn more about badges here or check out this tutorial video.
3) Sink: Sometimes when things get heated in a forum, rather than delete or close a discussion, you might choose to "sink" it. How does this work? It allows a moderator or admin to "sink" a discussions so new replies do not bump up a discussion back to the top. This unique-to-Vanilla solution helps you keep control and avoid more users joining in.
4) Vanillicons: There's nothing worse than a forum where everyone has the same default avatar and as a CMGR, it's easier to remember who's who when you can recognize the avatar. Vanillicon automatically creates a unique avatar for each member. To date, over 10.5 Million Vanillicons have been created. Gravatar is a service for providing a globally accessible avatars. If you've created a profile with a photo on a WordPress site, you probably have a Gravatar. By the way, you can use Vanillicons with your other applications too. You can get one directly from Vanillicon.com
5) Split and Merge: It can be a challenge to keep a Discussion on topic or to prevent duplicate redundant discussions. The Split and Merge features let moderators split out a comment (which is off topic) or merge two discussions which are similar without having to go to the Dashboard. Learn more about Split and Merge here.
6) Reporting: With Reporting, members of the community can flag a comment or discussion and include info if there is an issue. It will create a new discussion in a new category called "Reporting" so moderators can discuss the issue and take action instantly, right from the front-end. You can see reporting in action here.
7) Warnings & Notes: This add-on creates a graded punishment system for your community. It makes it possible to keep an eye on problem forum members, communicate with fellow moderators, all without needing a prodigious memory for any past negative actions.
8) Ranks: This add-on offers an easy way to reward users based on different criteria and award them different abilities. So for example, great contributors to the site, can get access to add a signature, or post links. It's also a great way to help identify people who may make good additions to the moderator team. Learn more about ranks here
9) @Mentions: Released back in July 2010, mentions are probably one of the most beloved features in Vanilla. It also works very simply. If a user needs to include a user in a discussion, all they need to do is mention them to get their attention. (This can also work to get a moderator's attention!)
10) Private Conversations: With private conversations, unlike private messages, you can invite users into the conversation, and they can see what was written. You can embed pictures and pretty much do all the things you are able to achieve with regular comments and discussions, but in this case, it's only with the parties you invite. Learn more about Private Conversations.
What are your favourite features?
While this is not a definitive list, these 10 features give you a good idea how Vanilla Forums gives Moderators features to make their jobs easier. If you are a moderator or admin of a Vanilla Forum, share your favourite features in the comments below! We'd love to know what stands out for you.