Happy New Year to All!
2017 was a big year. As a community we moved to Iceland to maintain privacy and freedom of speech, we changed our name from Politiforum to Freebird, and we added many new community members. Normally, big transitions like that kill communities. Instead ours grew and continues to.
Over the past year, a lot of big technical advancements have taken place behind the scenes, in addition to daily updates and frequent customizations. I haven’t talked enough about them and wanted to take the time share with all of you some of the big things that have been put into place.
Now, onto the features.
Features added in 2017
Live Reply Indicators of who is currently replying to a topic, both in the composer and at the bottom of the topic, before you even open the composer.
Reply by Email If you start a thread or receive a reply you can now reply directly via email and the post will be displayed as it normally would. I’ll start a Reply by Email best practice thread for assistance.
Saved Searches if you search for a particular topic frequently you can now save up to 20 custom searches.
Wikis We have had the wiki functionality for a while but it’s been customized to work like Wikipedia. A wiki post is a special type of post that can be edited by any Trust Level 1 user. I will make a tutorial.
Live Video Streaming live YouTube videos have always worked but support for all major live video streaming services have been added. Start making live video threads!
User Selectable Themes There are several themes to choose from. The default theme is Dark but if you want to go back to the original light theme go right ahead. There are a few other themes that give a very different look and feel from a classic internet forum feel to a very modern box styled theme. There are more coming too. Just click the menu icon next to your avatar to choose.
Animated Avatars if you want to change your profile photo to something a little more active - you can. Just upload your favorite .gif and that’s it.
Increased File Size Limits for sharing photos and videos that may be taken down from other image hosting and video hosting sites.
Paste Plain Text Table as Markdown Table Ever tried to copy a spreadsheet into Freebird to find that you just get plain text? No longer! We now support pasting tables from common spreadsheet programs like Excel, Numbers, and Libre Office and generating a Markdown table.
New Composer Style the old composer was full-width and very, very grey. It was time to give our composer a fresh set of blue accent paint! The new design removes the “sea of grey", and also removes full-width so the composer looks much nicer when viewed on wide screen devices.
Dismiss All Notifications Button
Freebird has had a Dismiss All notifications button on the user page for quite a while now. Turns out not everyone knew it was there! To make it easier to reach “inbox zero” there is now another dismiss button to the notification dropdown when you click on your avatar.
User Selectable Homepages: members can now select their own default homepage to any of the top menu locations. Prefer the category view over latest - go for it! To change your homepage click here
Translation: users who are not native English speakers have Freebird translated into their local language based upon their geographic location. Posts made in a foreign language are translated to English.
Cakeday if you enter your birthday into your profile information a small piece of cake will show up next to your icon letting users know that it’s your birthday.
Discobot new members of the community are introduced to discobot, an AI bot, when they sign up. Discobot walks a new member through the the site works and what basic functions they need to get started with. At the completion of the tutorial new members receive a certification and a certified badge. Existing members can start the discobot tutorial as well. We also have an advanced course users to take.
Spoiler Alert want to obscure your text to prevent from ruining something for other users? Then use spoiler alert to prevent users from immediately seeing what you have said. This is a great tool when discussing things like books, tv shows, movies etc - but can also be used for foul language. It’s a clever way to class things up. Use it.
Keeping Freebird Independent
Those of you who have been here long enough know that I absolutely hate advertisements. I detest the idea of having to moderate the speech of others because an advertising service may not like what is being said. The small amounts that advertisers pay isn’t worth sacrificing so much.
Unlike many political sites and forums out there, Freebird is not dependent on commercial or political support and does not accept any government funding.
But we need to do something.
In an attempt to avoid placing advertisements on the site and within the threads for all users, I’ve added the following features for those who want to help. It’s not required but it is appreciated.
In the site navigation area you will notice Patreon, the first of two new options to keep Freebird independent and advertisement free.
Patreon is a membership platform that provides business tools for site owners to run a subscription service, as well as ways to provide exclusive benefits to subscribers, or “patrons.”
Freebird and Patreon are now interconnected. In the coming days I will explain more about the subscription service and the what benefits I’m able to offer based on subscription level.
When a community member subscribes on Patreon using the same email address they use on Freebird, a Patreon badge is automatically added to the user’s avatar and they are placed into the Patron group - which is a private section of the site reserved for those who were generous enough to subscribe.
I did the integration last night. As the subscription option matures, so too will the benefits.
The second new item in the site navigation area you will notice is donate.
If a user would rather make a one-time donation in a more discreet way, Freebird is now integrated with Stripe and is authorized to make financial transactions directly within the site. No additional accounts need to be created. It’s quite an impressive feature.
Upon making a donation, the user will receive a donation badge, avatar icon, additional site privileges, and increased trust, which unlocks additional capabilities within Freebird.
As with Patreon, I did the integration last night. As the donation option matures so too will the benefits.
To learn more about Stripe, give them a visit.
Way Ahead for 2018
Now that we are in 2018, I will continue adding new features and customizations to the site and I do resolve to tell everyone about those features when they go live. There’s also something exciting and major happening early in 2018 that I’ve worked hard on for the last six months that is not quite ready to be announced yet. But trust me when I say I am very excited!
Finally, thanks to all of you who come here as frequently as you do. It’s the individuals who come together that make a community. Without all of you Freebird would cease to exist. This is as much your community as it is mine. As we go into the New Year please remember that there are real people with real lives on the other side of the screen. Let’s try to have debates about the ideas and concepts that people are expressing without making things personal. I know…that can be a tall order sometimes when discussing politics, but we are all good people capable of doing the right thing. Let’s make it happen.
All the best to you and yours.