Khoros Community

Tales of a Jive Refugee - Entry 3

Dear Journal: It's been three days since I last spoke to my Jive TAM, and I don't find myself missing him. I mean, he was a great guy, but life has gone on without him. I wonder if he misses me? Has he made new friends? Does he think about me often?

 

I promised you in my second entry that I'd talk about THWACK's customizations. Boy, it's a whopper of a subject. We have 355 spaces, 186 groups, 1862 defined system properties, and 23 custom plugins. Those plugins include everything that makes THWACK special:

 

  • A store in which users can purchase swag with points gained through gamification. The store is even integrated with a fulfillment vendor so items are automatically shipped and tracked.
  • Unique customized widgets.
  • Extended API and integration with our products to pass content and RSS feeds back and forth.
  • Special missions allowing daily questions to unlock, be answered by users and give them rewards, select winners, and automatically ship them prizes.
  • Integration with live chat services for our webcasts and live events.
  • Integration of event registration with Marketo.
  • The ability to change ownership of a content piece, in scenarios where our content team is posting something on someone’s behalf.
  • Counting downloads of a content piece.
  • Locking content from future commenters.
  • More in-depth spam moderation.
  • An SSO with our customer portal, allowing users to view and possibly manage their licenses from the community.
  • Validating product licenses and allowing users into a group based on products they own.

 

From a functionality standpoint, these are all things that are very simple in concept, but drive our unprecedented interaction on the website. For example, THWACK visits just hit 7+ million last year. When faced with the idea of losing this functionality to the constantly changing idea of a cloud platform, we trembled in fear of what the consequences would be.

 

Remember that dream team I mentioned in my second entry? Well, they talked us through how other clients are solving these problems. For example, using another cloud service like AWS to provide the middleman (or woman) database to store information we would’ve otherwise stored as an extension of Jive’s database.

 

We’re not through the woods, and have a ton of meaningful work to do in order to actually get these things moved over, but we’ve seen light and are wrapping our heads around how to actually get this done. No longer will we tremble in the dark corners of the internet as the Cloud’s rain encircles us.

 

I’ll talk about how we plan to address some of these other customizations in my next entry. Until then, stay thirsty, my friends!

 

About the Author
My name is Ben Garves. I'm a Senior Product Manager at SolarWinds, overseeing the success of our THWACK online community for IT professionals. We're a 150,000-member external community, currently on the Lithium JX platform.
7 Comments
Khoros Staff DebbieC
Khoros Staff

@bengarves - My favorite entry of the 3-part series! You had me laughing just a few words in. 

Hero
Hero

Well, @DebbieC, my career personality tests all said I should be a comedian, so I decided to enter the tech industry. Smiley Very Happy

Honored Contributor Honored Contributor
Honored Contributor

I have to admit I'm gripped reading this series, it's great reading about your experience so far. I've unfortunately never had the opportunity to work with the Jive community platform but I do admire aspects of it, what I will say is that the Lithium Community Platform is surprisingly flexible and customizable.

 

Looking forward to reading more tales on your journey.

This is a great series, Ben. Thanks for sharing.

 

One question I have regarding the swag store that is based off of in-community gamification: can you talk a little bit about the behaviors you're driving with this? It sounds like you've thought it through well enough to prevent it from becoming a free-for-all in terms of spamming to earn swag.

Hero
Hero

Hey @RobertT! I'd say what made the Jive platform so flexible for us was that we opted for a hosted environment, instead of cloud-based. This gave us the ability to add custom plugins, uninhibited. It isn't without pain points, though. Unlike a cloud platform, we are always well behind the bell curve when it comes to updating to the latest software versions. Each time Jive rolled out a new edition, we'd have to upgrade a dev environment and begin testing all of our customizations to make sure they were compatible with the new software. We've designed many of our processes around expediting the process, but it's definitely slow and painful.

 

Moving to Lithium will force us to migrate/re-write all of our customizations to be hosted and managed in a scalable cloud environment, like Amazon Web Services, but once the pain of the process is complete, we'll be able to backpack on all of Lithiums instant updates and stay eternally on the latest version.

 

That's PM candy, right there!

Hero
Hero

Hey @BrianOblinger, I'm not going to lie: we have had plenty of growing pains around prevention of spamming to earn points and purchase swag.

 

We've built out a couple of processes to help:

  • We look at ship-to addresses to make sure we don't have multiple accounts shipping to the same address.
  • We've set up automated reports that show any users completing multiple repetitive gamification actions within a short period of time. This helps us flag users using scripts to quickly take actions without human supervision.

Overall, we've had maybe 3 or 4 major cheaters in the history of the store. The community itself does a good job of reporting people who have been climbing leaderboards suspiciously fast.

 

As for what kind of behaviors we're driving - that's an entire other bag of tricks.

  • To drive engagement, we have a monthly mission primarily focused around one of our products. Those missions are made up of one question for each business day of the month. A question unlocks each day, and users are rewarded in points for correctly answering each question. At the end of the week, there's a prize drawing for everyone who answered all five correctly, and a grand prize at the end of the month for users who answered all 20 correctly. This is interaction gold, because users are competing, active, and becoming experts in our products. Especially the products they don't own...yet. Smiley Wink Here's this month's. At the very least, they have an opportunity at 3,000 points each month.
  • When we do our live events, we piggyback our store platform to give users rewards. For THWACKcamp 2017, we sent a scratch ticket to each of our digital attendees. Tickets had a code, which they input on our "Golden Ticket Machine". If the code was one of the 5 winning codes for each prize, the store fulfilled the shipping of the item to the user. Again, this brought them back to the community and gave us a nurture process, post-event.

We're still figuring out all the potential of the store and how we're using points. If you can squeeze some budget out of your bosses for swag and have the ability to set something similar up, it's an easy sell. I'm excited to share how we'll move this to Lithium, when we make the migration.

Really interesting stuff. Thanks for the insights.