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Introducing the New Community Admin

Lithium Alumni (Retired) Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Lithium Alumni (Retired)

For the people who are responsible for building and configuring a community, the Community Admin is a very important place. Want to change the number of tags in a Tag Cloud or the number of posts required for a new rank? You can do it in the Community Admin. Want to rearrange your discussions, give users’ kudos more clout, or show more images on an album page? Those settings and 800 or so of their closest friends are in the Community Admin, too.

 

If you’ve been a Lithium customer for more than 20 minutes, you’ve had occasion to visit the old Community Admin. It was, shall we say, a wee bit clunky and awkward, with an interface only a mother could love. It was also the product (victim) of evolution, having grown organically with the Lithium Community Platform over the course of many years. As features were added, we bolted on new Admin pages, tossed more permissions into the list, and tucked a few more layout settings onto pages that were already scroll-athons.

 

The changes in the Community Admin described in the pages that follow fall into these rough categories:

  • Page layout and organization
  • Scope of settings
  • Granting permissions   
  • Community structure
  • Getting help

Page layout and organization

The most obvious change to the Community Admin is the layout of the pages and the organization of settings. For starters, the Community Admin is no longer the ugly step-child of the community. The Admin now sports the same attractive, easy-to-read page layout as Studio. Even though you don’t typically visit the Community Admin to admire the view, it’s a relief that the pages are no longer cringe-worthy.

 

Even more striking (and potentially unsettling) is the degree to which we’ve reorganized all of the Community Admin settings. We started with the premise that similar and related settings should be grouped together in a more task-based approach. The result is a set of nine logical sections, each of which contain pages chock-full of groups of related settings. For really complicated features (you know who you are, Twitter and Facebook), we've further divided pages into tabs so that you don't have to slog through all the other Twitter stuff to get to the Twitter badge settings.

 

A good way to familiarize yourself with the organization of settings in the New Community Admin is to simply start clicking around. Faster still is the new Search feature you can use to locate settings. The Community Admin search works the same as it does elsewhere in the community. You start typing a search term and the system presents suggested a bunch of matches. Search spans the setting title and any description or help text.

 

Reminder: Both the Community Admin and the New Community Admin are fully functional. You can use either one to make configuration changes in your community. New features, such as Social Support Manager Moderation can only be configured using the New Community Admin.

 

Scope of settings

As was true in the old Community Admin, you can choose options and settings at various levels in the community. You might want to set some options one way for the community as a whole and another way for specific discussions.


The new Community Admin has simplified both choosing where you want to set options and determining where you are at any given time. A color-coded area in the upper left corner of the page shows you which section of the community your settings affect.

  • Blue indicates the community as a whole
  • Peach is for categories
  • Violet is for discussions

One of the coolest things about the New Community Admin is the clever way you can flit around from the community level to individual discussions and back again. The system keeps track of where you are and applies the settings accordingly. 

 

Granting permissions

The pages for setting permissions was a bear. The more features we added, the more it growled under the weight of still more permission settings. In the New Community Admin, inheritance still works the same way (permissions for discussions, for example, inherit the settings from the category where they're located; and the category inherits the defaults from a higher level category or the community-wide settings).

 

What's changed, however, is the way you find the permissions you want to set. No more scrolling until the cows come home. Instead, the permissions are organized into sections that you can open and close. You can quickly scan the list to find the section you want and hey! presto! you're finished.

 

Community structure

This is another facet of the New Community Admin that you will quickly come to adore. Remember the old wordy tabular Boards and Categories page? It's gone. In its place is a seriously handsome, easy-to-navigate tree hierarchy that works just like your typical file and folder browser. No more plowing through umpteen lines of text to see what each category contains. Instead, cute little icons show you how many of each type of discussion are in each category. 

 

And best of all, you can add or remove categories and discussions right in the tree! It's enough to spark a whole new building boom (just remember the golden rules of community health and liveliness before you toss in too many new discussions).

 

Getting help

As the author of many of the settings descriptions and FAQs, I have a lot to answer for, including the dogged consistency that had me tearing my hair out to find some way to reword Turn on kudos so that it provided meaningful help. As part of the New Community Admin project, we decided to invest in making the settings as clear  and descriptive as possible and to ditch the help that wasn't remotely helpful. As a result,  observant or aesthetically inclined users will immediately notice the absence of those attractive little question marks that littered the landscape in the old Admin. What you'll find instead is help text that appears when you click a setting. Click another setting and the help text goes away. Be sure to let us know if it's not working for you (there's a link at the bottom of the page to a discussion devoted to the New Community Admin).

 

We've also made some improvements in the online help, which you can now access using the HELP link at the top of each page! Look for some serious changes to the Admin FAQ pages over the course of the next two releases.

 

Which brings us to the remaining source of information about the New Community Admin: the Lithosphere! Right here in your own community there's a Documentation TKB that's the repository for all our formal product documentation as well as sundry other TKBs that are also loaded with good information.

 

As I mentioned in the 9.17 release notes post, we know there's still room for improvement in the Community Admin, so don't be shy about giving us feedback.

 

You can find more information  about the New Community Admin in this Documentation TKB article and in the PDF guide that's attached to it (it has lots of pictures).

 

Enjoy!

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About the Author
SusanM, formerly Lithium's wordsmith in residence, was responsible for product documentation, user interface text, and inline and online user assistance. She's now available to work the same magic for other companies.