The New-and-improved Be Communities

Here are just some of the things that are included with the new-and-improved Be Communities:

Search

There is now more prominence and improvements to the site's search. The search field is located closer to “the action” on the home page as well on the pages within each community. During the site update, the entire database was indexed, providing better search results than before. Search scope (i.e. the current application/area/community or across the entire site) will also be more obvious. The results page is also significantly better: faceted navigation is included, providing the ability to narrow or expand based on application (e.g. forum, wiki, etc.), author, post date, tags (now integrated in the same search utility), etc. You can also sort by relevance (the default), most recent article/post, alphabetical order, or rating. Navigating from one "page" of results to another is also much easier. We will be using tags quite a bit more than previously for “Support Solutions” (aka wiki) articles. This will help "tie" solutions for products OR product areas together across the site.

Simpler User Interface

The user interface has been "lightened" up a bit, making it more obvious where to go and what to do across the site. The "flyout" submenu listing has been removed in favor of a simpler select-what-you-need approach, again emphasizing the use of search to get what you are looking for. Reordered tabs are labeled with the functionality they provide instead of what they are. Granted, we still have some work to do here, but you will see more and more improvements in this area.

HTTPS

Be Communities now implements Secure HTTP. This is not an indication that what existed previously was not secure, it is simply that we have added measures to incorporate more levels of security to conduct business with our users.

We have temporarily backed this out to do some more work and testing on it. We do plan to re-establish it early in 2014.

Community Unification

We are in the process of "merging" communities to minimize ambiguity and make it easier to get solutions to issues. We started this by creating one Programming community (linked from the Product Area section of the Product Communities landing page) where all external developer communities reside or are linked from. That provides a single location where developers can share information and experiences with published Bentley product APIs and SDKs. We will be doing more and more consolidation like this in 2014.

Localized User Interface

If your preferred language is German, you can change the Be Communities' user interface by going to your Settings on Be Communities (i.e. https://communities.bentley.com/user/settings.aspx) and then selecting German in the LANGUAGE option list. Although this only changes the user interface, we are looking at ways to localize the content in local languages. We will also be implementing other local languages for the user interface, starting with Simplified Chinese.

Product Landing Page

The Product landing page was redesigned to provide you with an easy way to choose the community that is most applicable to your question or issue. This makes it easy to select the community by one of the following:

  • What You Do(i.e. Product Categories): Support Communities where you can get information and answers to questions that are specific to Bentley products.
  • What You Use (i.e. Product Areas and Product Names): These lists are for the support Communities where you can get information and answers to questions regarding technology and functionality included with different Bentley products as well an alphabetical index of Bentley product names that link to the respective Product Category Support Communities.

Recalculation of Points

The number points each member has acquired by contributing on the site has been refactored. The intent is to identify those who provide quality input, with quantity being somewhat secondary in nature. The "point score" uses these factors:

Quality:These factors give points to community participants who are friended or followed as well as the authors of content that have received positive response from community participants, indicating that the content has been helpful in some way.

  • Verified Answer Factor - Number of points awarded to a the author of a forum reply or suggested answer that has been verified as an answer.
  • Rating Factor - This is currently not being used, but may in the future. It is the number of points awarded to the author of the following for each rating value received (e.g. each star if displayed as 5 stars):
    • Question or discussion (forum thread)
    • Reply to a question or discussion
    • Blog post
    • File

  • Bookmarked Post Factor - Number of points awarded to the author of a blog post, forum thread, or file each time it is bookmarked.

Participation:These factors give points to the person who takes a particular action, whether creating new content or providing feedback on existing content.

  • Rater Factor - Number of points awarded to a community participant for each rating level (e.g. each star in a 5-star rating system) he or she gives to a blog post, forum thread, forum reply, or file.
  • Post Factor - Number of points awarded to the author of each blog post, forum thread, or file.
  • Reply Factor - Number of points each reply to the original post will be work.
  • Replier Factor - Number of points awarded to the author of a forum thread for each direct reply by another unique user (i.e. someone who has not yet replied to that thread).
  • Download Factor - Number of points awarded to the person who uploaded a file each time it is downloaded.
  • Downloader Factor - Number of points awarded to the person who uploaded a file each time it is downloaded by another unique user (i.e. someone who has not yet downloaded the file).
  • User (Friend) Factor - Number of points awarded to a community participant each time he or she is friended or followed by another person.
  • Wiki Comments - Number of points a community participant receives for adding a comment to a wiki article.
  • Wiki Edits - Number of points a community participant receives for editing a wiki page.
  • New Page - Number of points a community participant receives for publishing a new wiki page.

Badging

The number of points calculated determine one of (currently) five ranks:

  • Welcome (0 - 300)
  • Bronze (301 - 1000)
  • Silver (1001 - 5000)
  • Gold (5001 - 15000)
  • BeMVP (15001 - 50000)

The user rank will display with an avatar and rank name when the cursor hovers over the user name anywhere in the site, and will display available actions. Each of the badges used currently display the fact that there are five possible, helping to understand what the "next levels" are.

Reputation (Scoring) System

The points system rewards points for participation, but someone with a lot of points in the community does not equal a quality community member (a user could create 10 bad forum threads and get 50 points for it). We will be using the site's scoring system to manage or create scores that support measuring, calculating, and ranking content and community members.

More to Come (starting early in 2014):

  • Update and upgrade the site on a more regular basis
  • Put in place an "ideation" module to provide the ability to make suggestions about our products (and even Be Communities) and "vote" on them. This will not replace our current internal tracking system, but will provide a better way to communicate ideas to help make our products and services better
  • Continue to make improvements to the user interface
  • Integrate Be Communities with our products and services
  • Enhancements to the BeMVP program
  • Move and consolidate communities (on a gradual basis communicated in advance of the respective move or consolidation)
  • All Product communities will become "managed", meaning that will be an area where we will offer product technical support (both proactive and reactive)
  • Increased participation by Bentley colleagues and industry experts through two forms of "Special Interest Groups" (SIGs) and "Online Subject Matter Experts of the Day".
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