Introducing Community Ideas

"Ideas" is a Bentley Communities application module that adds category posing and idea generation, rating, commenting, voting, and triage to communities. The Ideas application can be customized with a look and feel that encourages innovation and community participation. It can even provide a sampling of ideas from across the community on the "Ideas" home page.

To a certain extent, "Ideas" could be considered "forums on steroids", although there is a distinct purpose for forums (i.e. asking questions and getting answers) and categories (i.e. publicizing and getting input on certain topics). You can use Ideas to create various types of categories -- for example, "Who has the best solution to such-and-such a problem?", which community members can answer by posing ideas to solve the problem. Those sorts of categories do get close to what forums provide. We see categories being used more to pose open-ended questions, such as "What do we add in the next product iteration?" to be answered with ideas for the product. There can be multiple categories going at the same time within the same community. There are various permissions associated with categories -- by default, they are set up like this:

Permission Admin/Owner Registered member Everyone Notes
Ideas - Create Comments    
Ideas - Create Ideas   Bentley colleagues only for the time being in Joinless communities (i.e. Product communities). 
Ideas - Delete Comments      
Ideas - Delete Ideas     A member does not need to have "Edit Idea" permission to perform this action.
Ideas - Edit Comments      
Ideas - Edit Ideas     Gives access to edit the idea or provides access for managing idea status.
Ideas - Manage Idea Status     To change idea status, the member must also have Edit Ideas permission. For example, giving Registered members "Manage Idea Status" permission only will not give them access to the idea management functions - changing the status and entering notes.
Ideas - Read Ideas Comments and notes on the idea are visible externally to anonymous members.
Ideas - Vote Down Ideas   If you vote an idea down, you can only vote it down once. Each member can cast only one vote per idea. However, they can change his/her vote. Note that voting up or voting down is not supported for the anonymous member.
Ideas - Vote Up Ideas   There is no limit on the number of ideas a member can vote for. However, they can only create or negate one vote per idea. For example, if you vote for your own idea and then try to vote it up again, this will cancel the vote. Each member can cast only one vote per idea. they can change his/her vote. Note that voting up or voting down is not supported for the anonymous member.

To get a good understanding of what the Ideas application brings to Communities, let's examine how it works in the life cycle of an idea.

In the first stage, a member with the Ideas - Create Ideas permission creates a category. You can add a title and description to the Ideas - Add/Edit category form. Once the category is created, it will be shown in the category list for members to browse and answer.

When a member finds a category they want to pose an idea for, they select the category. In the Create Idea window, the member adds a headline and some text -- note that only the headline is required. The idea can be presented with all of the standard text editing capability available in the site's rich text editor, including @ mentions and #hashtags.

After clicking Save, the idea now appears in the community activity stream and in the idea list.

Members can pick out an idea to view from this list, or they can also view similar content to this idea (e.g. other ideas or other posts in blogs, forums, media galleries, and wikis) in the Similar Content with Ideas widget. This widget is similar to Recommended content, but also includes ideas.

When other members view the idea, they might want to ask questions about it or comment on it to request clarification. When an idea receives a comment, the idea author and post comment subscribers are notified of the comment.

The author can then edit the idea to include any requested details or clarifications. Comments can be liked. Ideas themselves cannot be liked because a like is much like a vote. Note that comment authors cannot delete their own comments, but administrators and community owners can delete them.

Usually in tandem with browsing ideas, members with permission (note: anonymous members can only read ideas by default) can vote an idea up or down.

Each kind of vote - up or down - requires a specific permission to vote. In this way, community administrators can control the voting environment. If only one permission (such as voting up) is given, the member will see the opposite button (i.e. vote down), but will not be able to click it. A no permission to vote message is displayed. Each member can vote on as many ideas as they like. A member can have only one net vote per idea. If they remove it, they can re-vote. They can revise their vote (e.g. from voting down to voting up). If they have voted positively once, clicking the up arrow again will delete their vote. If they have voted negatively once, clicking the down arrow will delete their vote. Votes are counted in whole numbers, not percentages.

When community owner(s) decide that enough votes have been cast, they can triage ideas. To do this, they need the Ideas - Vote on Ideas permission and Ideas - Manage Idea Status permission in order to manage status. When an idea administrator edits the idea, they are presented with a status drop-down and Status Notes field on the idea. The Under Review, Coming Soon, Not Planned and Complete statuses do not change the behavior around the idea. The idea can still be viewed even for example if it is complete, and votes can be cast toward the idea. However, the statuses do affect new metrics (Idea Status metric and Idea Votes metric) that contribute to a new Top Idea Score in this release and can be applied to other scores.

Initially, we are using this on the site and have "moved" the site Known Issues to the Communities Site Improvements category. We are considering the eventual integration of our internal tracking system with this (initially as it applies to enhancements and change requests), but we want to see what you think about it and let it grow naturally from there.

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