Hi, all, I posted this info in the blog as well, so you may have seen it already. But just in case, here's my latest news flash - again!
My site host, Hoop.la, routinely monitors the requests and needs of all of the sites that they support and uses that feedback to determine various platform upgrades. How great of them, right?!
Well, last night they announced several new upgrades! Woo hoo! Some of them only affect administrators and moderators (like me), but there are a few that I thought could very well interest you:
- New live chat room functionality. Chat rooms (example, pictured above left) differ from forums in that they allow members to chat in real time rather than "asynchronously." (Sorry, that was Hoop.la tech-speak for "not at the same time"!) And chat rooms differ from chat events (like the recent one with Sweet Ambs and the upcoming one with Glory, above right) in that they're not moderated and can go on indefinitely. I believe chat rooms hold a lot of potential for allowing members to get to know one another better, but I honestly haven't though through all of their potential applications. For now, I'm giving them a test run with this new chat room called Casual Cookie Chat. It will be open 24/7 for popping in, saying hello to members, and/or discussing burning cookie questions. If you have ideas for other chat rooms (i.e., topics that benefit from real-time chatter), please leave them in this forum.
- Featured chats. Hoop.la has also made it much easier for members to see what chats have happened or are upcoming! If you click on "Chats" in the main navigation line and then look in the column to the right, you'll see widgets with links to these chats. For a screen shot, check out the attachment, below.
- Sortable member directory. Now, anyone can sort the member directory by username, join date, last site visit, and community rank (a measure of activity on the site) by going to "Members" in the main navigation line and selecting the desired sort option in the top middle of the page. See the attached screen shot, below, for a visual of what I'm talking about.
Anyhoo . . . I hope you enjoy these new features. There have been some requests for Pinterest sharing buttons, integration of Facebook fan (rather than personal) pages, and a few other things. Hoop.la assures me that these requests are in their hopper, though they process them in the order of overall user need (not based on any one site's need), so it's hard to predict when those enhancements may be delivered. But I'll be sure to let you know as soon as I know! You can count on that!