Walt Bilofsky

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  1. 311 votes
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    154 comments  ·  Wishlist » Events  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    I merged another very similar thread into this one, they should be solved together – the registration to multiple events should be simple and fast if possible. There are a number of suggestions in comments on how to achieve this.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    We avoid the strait-jacket of WA's registration system whenever possible by creating zero cost events with an additional cost item for number of guests in the party, or for meal choices.

    Only when we need to use features like attendance limits do we put our members through registering for themselves and "guests", which is usually their spouse, and then we have to explain carefully that this is "additional guests."

    We're lucky that we're a small organization with relatively uncomplicated events. I feel for groups who have to wrestle WA's registration system into working for anything more complex.

    Even a simple thing like allowing a zero cost "extra cost item" would help us win some of those wrestling matches. Why can't that get done?

  2. 35 votes
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    1 comment  ·  Wishlist » Emails  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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  3. 50 votes
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    13 comments  ·  Wishlist » Emails  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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  4. 7 votes
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    1 comment  ·  Wishlist » Security / Privacy  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    This is why I never use the app.

    Because I am a full admin, my password is impossible to remember, so once I'm logged out I'm out for good.

    Walt Bilofsky supported this idea  · 
  5. 154 votes
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    113 comments  ·  Wishlist » Forums  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    My club president just asked me to provide a facility for members to exchange needs and thoughts during the pandemic, while we are all staying home and our club is shut down. All I could offer is the forum, which as discussed for many years does not fill the need.

    Here's what would:

    1. Include full text of posts in Immediate forum notification emails.
    2. Include a link marked "To reply to this post ..." that goes to the post.
    3. Tighten the subject line to feature the topic subject and remove unnecessary words.
    4. When a user posts, automatically subscribe them to that topic with frequency Immediate.
    5. Default topic subscriptions to Immediate instead of Daily.

    Is this something you would be willing to prioritize in the next release, to support your customers and our members at this incredibly stressful time?

    =============

    (This repeats my post from the listserv thread https://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308932-wishlist/suggestions/8825587-listserv-i-e-ability-to-submit-forum-posts-by-ema . Perhaps this suggestion is bogged down because WA is fixated on a more general listserv capacity. The implementation effort should be modest and I hope it will get more attention as a forums feature.)

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    There used to be a roadmap that was updated periodically. Could that be revived?

    And then anything not on the roadmap would be "This is not in our plans right now."

    It would need to be understood that a roadmap is a snapshot, not a promise, and things may move down as well as up.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    There are a lot of good ideas out there, and they can't do everything.

    I count 13 Wishlist items with more votes than this one. And there are some with fewer votes that probably have more impact.

    It's frustrating when we want to run our organization better but need a new feature to do that. All I can say is that our club looks better and runs smoother with less work since we got on Wild Apricot. I'm not happy waiting for new features but it's part of the package.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    We now have another need for this feature.

    Up until now, our administrative group could communicate with our club just by sending an email to our (non-WA) mailing list. But that is becoming unusable due to more stringent email validation practices.

    Trying to get them to use the WA email system will be difficult. It is a multi-step process. The UI, particularly the text editing, is quirky. They don't need all the formatting - they just want to send an email.

    If we could subscribe all our members to a forum, we could give our administrative group access to the forum page. This would give them a much simpler UI for just sending out a message.

    No one will actually read this forum - it will just be a vehicle for sending emails to our club.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    I think you're looking for "Managing email subscriptions to forum updates" - https://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308932-wishlist/suggestions/8826331-managing-email-subscriptions-to-forum-updates , with the addition of linking a group to a forum.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    In addition to default subscriptions, the admin should also be able to specify default notification frequency. As is, everything defaults to daily which is not always the best choice.

    The Forum gadget should have settings for the default notification frequency (immediate, daily, weekly) for subscriptions to (a) the forum and (b) individual posts.

    The Member profile will need four : immediate, daily, weekly and default. It would initially always be "default", so that changing the forum default would change any subscribed member unless they had selected something else.

    I mentioned this in the Wishlist thread https://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308932-wishlist/suggestions/8825587-listserv-i-e-ability-to-submit-forum-posts-by-ema . But these two are related and the design for one should accommodate the other.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    Since this feature is going to be part of the implementation of listserv functionality,* the admin should be able to set protection for subscription to a particular forum the same as for common contact fields: admin access only vs. contact can change.

    In other words, the admin should be able to set whether the user can subscribe or unsubscribe to the forum.

    * - See http://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308932-wishlist/suggestions/8825587-ability-to-submit-forum-posts-by-email-to-use-fo?tracking_code=bc5e20d637891a00e0fffa8bc0a597b0 .

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    As we discussed in this thread, forums could be used to provide most of the functionality of a listserv : http://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308932-wishlist/suggestions/8825587-ability-to-submit-forum-posts-by-email-to-use-fo .

    But that will require this feature to have the full benefit; otherwise the lists will only be opt-in which is ineffective for most situations.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    [quote user="OlegN"]

    We have finished design and want to share progress with you. We have redesigned email settings and extended subscription options for event announcements and email blasts as well. See details in presentation below.

    https://docs.google.com/a/wildapricot.com/presentation/d/1bj4iE_bnw_mhLM2u5KMoH6WTCh4n0oPZkDXdB2folt4/present#slide=id.p

    [/quote]

    The slideshow is a private Google doc. Please make public.

    [quote user="OlegN"]

    We are planning to
    * - Add new Email Settings page, which will allow administrators to:
    * Setup default forum subscriptions for new contacts
    * Bulk subscribe existing contacts to forums
    * - Extend Email settings page in Contact details to allow subscribing to forum topics
    * - (most likely) Add similar subscription settings for subscription sources

    [/quote]

    This will be helpful.

  6. 28 votes
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    11 comments  ·  Wishlist » Forums  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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  7. 251 votes
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    164 comments  ·  Wishlist » Emails  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    My club president just asked me to provide a facility for members to exchange needs and thoughts during the pandemic, while we are all staying home and our club is shut down. All I could offer is the forum, which as discussed for many years does not fill the need.

    Here's what would:

    1. Include full text of posts in Immediate forum notification emails.
    2. Include a link marked "To reply to this post ..." that goes to the post.
    3. Tighten the subject line to feature the topic subject and remove unnecessary words.
    4. When a user posts, automatically subscribe them to that topic with frequency Immediate.
    5. Default topic subscriptions to Immediate instead of Daily.

    These are from my post three years ago.

    Is this something you would be willing to prioritize in the next release, to support your customers and our members at this incredibly stressful time?

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    Thanks for the clarification, Dmitriy.

    I would strongly encourage you to first design a solution based on the original suggestions to expand forums to provide listserv functionality.

    Then you can find more modern ways to implement or extend that forum functionality in the mobile app.

    Why do I suggest this? Younger people these days - speaking generally - use texting and messaging apps to communicate. Older folks still use email and many do not take full advantage of smartphones. Lots of people use forums. All of these groups of people are represented among your WA end users.

    If you begin a new design based on mobile functionality, you will cut off a large portion of your end user base.

    So first fix the shortcomings of the functionality you already have, before doing something entirely new - even if it is more interesting.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    Dmitry, what do you mean by "we mostly think about mobile solution instead of direct implementing listserv"?

    Do you mean you are prioritizing resources for the mobile app now and deferring listserv?

    Or do you mean that you plan to provide a mobile solution in the place of listserv?

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    Searching on "listserv" will bring up this much-discussed feature.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    The Wishlist is set up for customers to give you input on specific missing features.

    What we lack is a support forum more suited to exchanging tips with each other and with your support staff about ways we have found to use WA and work around issues and problems.

    We've discussed this before, and I maintain it will cost you less staff time in the long run to have their answers visible to multiple customers instead of just the one who asks, and for users to be able to help each other and reduce the load on your support.

    Lacking that forum, I'll do what I can here to free you up for managing improvements. :)

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    Thanks for your response.

    We talk a lot on the wishlist about what WA doesn't have, and the things we need to work around, but overall it is a tremendous asset for us. Since switching, we've been able to advertise events, get registrations, have options for online and at-the-door payment, and look so much more professional than our old website with less effort, even though we are a volunteer organization. Our members are more engaged and our membership records more complete.

    I also appreciate your plan to implement top wishlist items this year, and the features you have already added. I particularly like your workaround for color coding events; it has made our calendar more attractive and useful.

    As a programmer since 55 years ago, I've always looked for the most results from the least effort. You at WA have a more meticulous and thorough process and look for complete solutions. This serves you well, and it's necessary in implementing large systems with hundreds or thousands of different users. I understand that it takes time and resources.

    I'm just hoping to persuade you that my fast and cheap approach will be beneficial for this particular feature. :)

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    This feature has the 9th highest vote total of the suggestions not already being worked on. It can be largely addressed with modest development resources. I know you don’t like partial solutions, but please don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    With apologies for mostly repeating myself, here’s a design that can make this better, in two or three steps:

    Phase 1:

    1. Include full text of posts in Immediate forum notification emails.
    2. Include a link marked "To reply to this post ..." that goes to the post.
    3. Tighten the subject line to feature the topic subject and remove unnecessary words.
    4. When a user posts, automatically subscribe them to that topic with frequency Immediate.
    5. Default topic subscriptions to Immediate instead of Daily.

    This will provide a lot of the functionality of listservs. It’s a big improvement for relatively little effort. It requires no UI changes or additional mechanism inside WA. It shouldn’t require much testing since it only affects the content of the email notifications and one subscription setting.

    Phase 2: Provide some functionality for admins to mass subscribe members to a forum. For example, add a “Subscribe to forum(s)” function to search results. Or add forum subscriptions to member record export and import. No need to include mass unsubscribe; members get an unsubscribe link in notification emails.

    Then later, or instead, implement "Managing email subscriptions to forum updates": http://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308932-wishlist/suggestions/8826331-managing-email-subscriptions-to-forum-updates-941 . The design is already there and just needs a little tweaking.

    This will get almost all listserv functionality. The only difference is having to click a link to reply instead of replying by email, and there are advantages to having it that way: keeping the chatter down and reducing the email load on the servers.

    I hate to beat on you guys. I know there are a lot more needs than resources. But doing at least Phase 1 gets you a lot of customer satisfaction for relatively small effort. I’m trying to get an online discussion going in our club, and the existing forums put up barriers that don’t have to be there.

    Thanks for your consideration.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    You say above:

    "The biggest challenge is how to enable this without overloading our servers with email traffic. This can ramp up quickly."

    There are two ways you can reduce this load:

    1) Require the user to click a link in the email and go to the forum in order to reply, rather than allowing them to just reply to the email.

    2) If you do allow reply via email, let the admin optionally set the forum so that email replies go to just the sender of that email, rather than to the whole forum.

    I've mentioned both of these before, but want to highlight that they will help solve the server load problem.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    Those needing this as a critical function may be interested in our interim workaround. Our old website used GNU Mailman. When we switched over to WA, we didn't want to lose that functionality and have people complain that the new site was worse than the old one.

    So we still use the Mailman listserv. My co-webmaster implemented a nightly API task which keeps the mailing list synchronized with our member list in WA.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    Another important detail (if it hasn't already been mentioned):

    The Forum gadget needs to have settings for the default notification (immediate, daily, weekly) for subscriptions to (a) the forum and (b) individual posts. Currently the default is "daily" but for a good discussion listserv or forum it should default to immediate.

    Note that a thorough implementation of this would actually have four notification settings in the Member profile: immediate, daily, weekly and default. So changing the forum default would change any subscribed member unless they had selected something else.

    Reviewing the latest design (1/14/16):

    I don't see the ability to specify whether replies go to (a) everyone and post on the forum, or (b) only the author of the post, and not be posted on the forum. As mentioned below, if you don't provide this then you have not provided listserv functionality.

    You don't say that the subject line of the email notifications will be improved as Oleg and I discussed last year, down this thread. This is also important to get the users to pay attention to the emails.

    I again note that if you implement everything in your design except the ability to respond by email, you will have 90% of the benefit of this feature with maybe 25% of the work. The message recipient will still have an easy way to respond using the link in the email. So if that can make this happen faster, I urge you to do it that way first and add email response (if it is needed) later.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    Evgeny, I just noticed a serious design issue in your October 5 comment below.

    Kim had emphasized the need to allow for email replies to go to (a) the full forum, or (b) only the individual posting.

    You replied "The design we created works simpler: email reply posts a comment (or event a new topic) into a forum and then each participant is notified according to their notification preferences on the forum."

    So you only allow (a) - reply to the full forum.

    This would not meet your goal to provide listserv functionality, which almost always includes this admin setting. It would create a problem in having effective group communication with forums.

    As Kim said, "Almost always I choose (b) as the default to avoid the slew of reply-all's that just say "Thanks!" or "I agree." or similarly trivial messages that just annoy the majority and cause people to unsubscribe because of too many emails."

    Please revisit your design and allow the admin to specify option (a) or (b) for each forum. All this requires is for the reply-to address on the notification emails to be set to the forum reply address for (a) or the email address of the poster for (b).

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    Good catch, Kim. Yes, very important. Choice (a) is for a discussion list. Choice (b) is for an announcement list. Both are needed.

    Just to clarify choice (b): In this case the listserv sends an email with Reply-to the sender, but From is still the email address of the list. So Reply will go only to the sender. If someone consciously wants to reply to the whole list, they must use Reply All, which will go to the sender, any cc's (from a forum there won't be any) and the entire list.

    In this Reply All case, the listserv needs to look at the other addressees on the email (for a forum, only the sender of the previous post) and not send them a duplicate email, even if they are on the list.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    As I see it, there are three pieces to this (restating what I posted earlier):

    1. Include full text of posts in Immediate forum notification emails. Include a link marked "To reply to this post ..." Tighten the subject line.

    This should be simple and should be fast-tracked.

    2. Implement "Managing email subscriptions to forum updates": http://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308932-wishlist/suggestions/8826331-managing-email-subscriptions-to-forum-updates-941 . This is already designed and should be prioritized.

    At this point, you would already have full listserv functionality except for the requirement to click a link to reply (not a huge problem IMO, and will help keep the email traffic down) and moderation (not in the current design but should be, IMO).

    Then at a later date, consider adding:

    3. Post reply via email (and maybe moderation of posts?)

    When our club goes live on WA this month, as a temporary workaround we will keep our existing Mailman listserv. We are implementing a cron job using the API that will automatically keep the Mailman mailing list synchronized with the email addresses and preferences in our WA members database.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    Fantastic!

    (Edit: The other half of the listserv functionality will be Admin control of forum subscriptions http://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308932-wishlist/suggestions/8826331-managing-email-subscriptions-to-forum-updates-941 , which the roadmap http://help.wildapricot.com/display/DOC/Product+roadmap currently shows in the development queue.)

    Could I also suggest that you consider (now or later) tightening the subject line of the immediate notification?

    Current header:

    ("Members' Chat is the name of the forum.)

    Suggested:

    The From field is sufficient to identify the organization; it doesn't need to be repeated in the subject line. If we want it there, we could make the forum name "TYC Members' Chat."

    "Summary" is still good for a digest.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    [quote user="OlegN"]In scope of Listserv we plan to change subscriptions to forums, so they will contain full text of topic/reply.[/quote]

    In view of the delay, can this be split off and implemented sooner? It seems like a low effort change.

    You already include the full text of the post in a Topic subscription.

    Could you please just do the same thing for Forum subscriptions? (At least for Immediate notifications; maybe also for Daily and Weekly.)

    (Edit:) This would provide most of the full Listserv functionality with very small effort. The vast majority of members could just follow the discussion in the emails. For the few that want to reply, clicking a link in the email is a speed bump but not a huge one. (It might even filter out some noise.)

    When we transition to WA shortly, there will inevitably be complaints about things that don't work the same as the old system. We need some benefits. This would be a big one.

    Members have mostly tuned out on our listserv emails. This would let us set up different interest groups as announcement forums. Members could subscribe to just the email (forum notification) streams they want. But it needs the full text in the email.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    [quote user="OlegN"]This is better to leave requests in related thread http://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308932-wishlist/suggestions/8826331-managing-email-subscriptions-to-forum-updates-941 if there is any or create new - otherwise it is nearly impossible to find and prioritize them. [/quote]

    OK.

    Another problem with forums and email is that the email only contains a link to the post. It should contain the entire text of the post or the first part of it.

    I have posted this in the related thread http://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308932-wishlist/suggestions/8826256-forum-include-full-posting-text-in-email-digest , but note it here because most people following this thread are interested in the more general issue of member-to-member communication.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    I hope this will be implemented swiftly.

    This is the remaining stumbling block for our webmasters to propose WA to our Board of Directors. We're facing the same hassle as so many others in this thread of maintaining our existing listserv in parallel with WA when the whole point is to consolidate.
    So we really need this and the associated Managing email subscriptions feature http://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308932-wishlist/suggestions/8826331-managing-email-subscriptions-to-forum-updates-941 .

    Additional helpful features:
    * Ability to link a particular forum to group membership, so that anyone joining/leaving the group will automatically be subscribed/unsubscribed. If I understand correctly, at present a forum could be placed on a group-only page, but the subscribe/unsubscribe would have to be done by the individual members (see #3 above). And could the member leave the group and still get forum notifications?
    * Ability to moderate (pre-approve) forum posts. This becomes more important when texts of posts are included in email notifications.

  8. 4 votes
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  9. 1 vote
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    0 comments  ·  Wishlist » Events  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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  10. 170 votes
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    57 comments  ·  Wishlist » Mobile  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    I repeat this comment from over a year ago. It's simple and won't take a lot of your resources. If you refuse to let us promote our own organization, at least stop forcing us to promote yours (and confuse our members into the bargain)!

    ------

    If we can't brand the app, how about at least removing the WA brand from it? The members don't know what WA is, and shouldn't be seeing someone else's brand if they can't see ours.

    So give the app a generic title like "Your Membership" and replace the apricot logo with a membership card icon.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    +1 on remaining logged in. I no longer use the mobile app because my password is unmemorizable (being an admin) and I don't carry it around. Once the mobile users' app kicks me off, I can't log in again until I get back to my home PC - where I no longer need the app.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    If we can't brand the app, how about at least removing the WA brand from it? The members don't know what WA is, and shouldn't be seeing someone else's brand if they can't see ours.

    So give the app a generic title like "Your Membership" and replace the apricot logo with a membership card icon.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    As much as I love WA, that's not the brand that will build a connection between our club and the members. Having our club's name and logo on the app will impress them incredibly.

    And what a feature for WA to advertise: Your organization gets its own mobile app! (No, you can't say that now - all you can say is that members can use WA's app. Appearance is everything here.)

    Android has the ability to change icons and app labels. As soon as the member logs into the app the first time, it should replace the app name and logo with one that we can specify in the Member app admin settings.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    This is already in the mobile app settings, for the features supported by the app. There is only one member directory but it can be customized.

  11. 4 votes
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    1 comment  ·  Wishlist » New features  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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  12. 14 votes
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    9 comments  ·  Wishlist » Emails  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    Walt Bilofsky supported this idea  · 
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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    Part of this problem is the inflexibility of the process.

    Only two emails can be sent before the renewal date, and only two after. We give two months of grace period, so don't start the renewal push until after the date.

    So part of this request could be accommodated simply by allowing a negative number for the number of days before or after the renewal date. This would make all four timed emails available on whatever schedule works for the organization.

  13. 49 votes
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    3 comments  ·  Wishlist » Mobile  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    Could this please permit bundle members to renew as well as bundle administrators? Our memberships are couples and some are confounded when the spouse tries to renew.

  14. 3 votes
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    1 comment  ·  Wishlist  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    This could be done by moving the payment options into the registration type. And it would be helpful if a registration type could be made available only to non-members.

    It would not deal with the issue of a member registering but failing to send in a check, but apparently the OP is OK with that, as are we.

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  15. 24 votes
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    14 comments  ·  Wishlist » Events  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    The deadline to give caterers our attendance count is never at midnight - it's always in the middle of the day. WA forces us to either cut off registration before we have to, or go in to turn it off manually. Please make this feature part of the solution, not part of the problem.

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  16. 34 votes
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    7 comments  ·  Wishlist » Online payments  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    Walt Bilofsky supported this idea  · 
  17. 128 votes
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    72 comments  ·  Wishlist » New features  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    WA's November Newsletter email was headed "6 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR VOLUNTEER PROGRAM IN 2020."

    I can think of one more way. Implement this feature request.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    Has anyone found a good workaround for this? Maybe another web-based service that we can link to in order to get this functionality? We have tried Signup Genius but it doesn't do exactly what we need.

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    Has anyone found a workaround for this? Maybe another web-based service that we can link to in order to get this functionality? We have tried Signup Genius but it doesn't do exactly what we need.

    (The main thread for this is at https://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308932-wishlist/suggestions/8825953-volunteer-management-functionality and this should probably be combined with it.)

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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    We just went live on WA last week, and I was reminded of the absence of this feature.

    There are at least two other threads on this point:

    http://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308932-wishlist/suggestions/8827204-track-volunteer-jobs-for-events
    http://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308932-wishlist/suggestions/8825620-tracking-event-volunteers

    Can they be combined?

    Walt Bilofsky supported this idea  · 
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    Walt Bilofsky commented  · 

    I'm evaluating membership support software for our small volunteer yacht club.Without this feature, we can't consider WildApricot.

  18. 2 votes
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    0 comments  ·  Wishlist » Website / Content  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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  19. 10 votes
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  20. 3 votes
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