Hi, all! Hoop.la (my site tech team) recently upgraded the site, making changes primarily in the areas of forums and member avatars.
The forum changes are designed to make it easier to find hot (aka trending) forum topics and to search the forums. HOWEVER, I have NOT yet activated those changes on the site, because they are not working as I would have hoped (had I known in advance about them). As I get clarification from the tech team on this new functionality and any fixes to it, I may or may not be rolling out the forum changes here. So for now, the forums remain unchanged as far as you're concerned!
On the other hand, member avatars were rolled out by Hoop.la to all of their customers, without any option for me/customers not to activate them. So you will see those changes now. Basically, they converted all avatars from squares to circles (see below) for some reason. (Maybe they look more modern or hip that way?! )
Further, if a new member joins and does not select an avatar, his/her initial(s) will be the default avatar. (In the past, the "Proud Member of Cookie Connection" graphic was the default avatar.) This avatar change is largely cosmetic, but I did want to alert you to it, because . . . depending on what you've loaded as your avatar, it may no longer reveal well, or you may suddenly see an initial or initials. If that's the case, you may want to go to your member profile and update your avatar. As an example, the "Proud Member of Cookie Connection" avatar, which was originally square, no longer fills the new circle well (see above); as another example, portions of some people's logos are now cut off.
I have asked my tech team for new recommended specs for avatar uploads, and, once I have them, I will be modifying some our standard avatars (like "Proud Member") so they reveal better. I will also leave that information here to assist you with any avatar adjustments of your own.
So sorry for any inconvenience this site upgrade creates. If this avatar change had been solely up to me, I would have left well enough alone!
** UPDATE (May 9, 2019, 11 am CT) **
I have now activated the forum changes, so don't be surprised if you see a different forum display on the home page and also under the "Forums" tab. I will create another blog post later this weekend, when I have more time, explaining the changes and the new functionality they provide.
ALSO, IMPORTANT: Please wait to change your personal avatars. My site guys are working on an option for different avatar shapes, including returning to the original square format, and so the avatars may change again. I am thinking of returning them to closer to square so I don't have to reformat all of our stock avatars.
** UPDATE (May 10, 2019, 12 am CT) **
My site guys delivered! I now have options for avatar shapes, and I chose boxes with rounded corners (as opposed to circles or our previous squares)! Woo hoo! Now those avatars have a softer look, but they don't crop your previously loaded avatars the way that the circles did! I don't think any of you will need to make avatar changes now, unless, of course, your avatar needs updating for other reasons!