- It has a great API and we utilize this for badging our FREE, PRO and EDU users as well as providing access to our private EVP programs
- They have wonderful customer service that works with us in a number of ways from simple tweaks to even our most advanced integrations via the API.
- Customization options for discussions, questions, polls and even idea voting..
- Large number of add on packages for out of the box integration with tools like Zendesk which we use extensively.
- Analytics backend - Ability to really understand what content is getting the most attention and how effective our community is answering questions.
- Customization of analytic data by rank (Typically we would like to filter our data by our user's account types to see who out of our entire community is using the community.
- The API development has been slow but they have recently pushed out their new V2 but prior to V2, there were some inefficiencies in doing some automated user management.
- Most of my previous issues were addressed since we started with them.
I would say they might be less turn key for a small application but the fact they have an open source community, the ability to find help and information can lower the barrier of entry for most.
- They provide excellent and timely assistance when setting up and configuring a community.
- Their team is very helpful, friendly, and professional.
- The platform itself is robust and is reasonably performant. it includes gamification features to encourage community participation.
- Creating visual themes can be difficult. Although there is an open source version of the software, some of the plugins (gamification, badges) are not available for download, so any visual theme that includes them will need to be at least partially developed on their servers, vs doing the whole thing offline and then uploading it all at once. This can be time consuming as each code change has to be checking in to Github and then imported into their server cluster.
Vanilla Forums Review: "Adventures of a Forum Newbie—Vanilla helped us focus and get our forum off the ground"
In addition to StorageForum being a knowledge base for the self-storage and SiteLink communities, we hope the forum will increase sales as it reaches new people and also increase current customer satisfaction.
- The Add-ons and Badges features in the Dashboard are very user-friendly. The interface is visually well-organized is super-easy to understand — I never have that "I'm really not sure what this is about" feeling when implementing these options. Confidence is key!
- Vanilla Forum software is brand new to me so I've had lots of questions, especially in the beginning. But Tech Support has been extremely helpful and prompt! Shauna always provides thorough explanations, along with screencaps, whenever I'm stuck.
- Users really appreciate the notifications options—they're very specific as to emails or popups, with dozens of scenarios to specify especially for moderators. This reduces frustration (like getting too many emails) and worrying (wondering) if someone responded, etc. It's very customizable.
- I'd really like to see an option to list discussions in order of views—most to least. Right now the "Best Of..." feature is awesome but relies completely on Reactions alone.
- Seeing the view count reduce to "1" every once in while is a little disturbing, especially for us as a small community just starting out. I know this is a side effect of resetting the cache, but maybe Vanilla could find a way to keep the views intact.
- I'd like to be able to apply more than one Rank to a user. This is fairly specific to our community, but I'd like to recognize the expertise of some users and Ranks would be perfect. Using Roles for this has been cumbersome.
- Ideation - giving the users the ability for what they want to see in our products is extremely helpful for designing our roadmap.
- Easy to customize - Having the ability to freely customize the look and feel was one of the key reasons for choosing Vanilla Forums. Other alternatives appeared to have high engagement costs with any change.
- Dedicated Success Manager - Having professional services and a customer success manager helps ensure we are using the platform correctly, and get fast support to any question or issue we may be having.
- Q&A - The ability to mark questions as answers has had huge impact on ticket deflection.
- Improved API - though I believe this is currently in development.
The Vanilla Forum known as the Cireson Community has been implemented across all organizations.
The business problem that this address is access to information. With such a large customer base it is difficult to be aware of each situation our customers are using our product. With the advent of the community, this has given us a centralized point of access to share with everyone.
- Gamifying - Vanilla forums have allowed us to institute a ranking system where users are rewarded for participation. With this feature, users can gain recognition and prizes.
- Ease of use. Vanilla forums is very easy to use and manage.
- Customer service from Vanilla forums is fast and responsive. Knowing that you can receive feedback on an issue is great.
- Interaction between users. Supporting upwards of 1200 customers can be a difficult task. The community allows us to manage customer interaction and make the community aware of serious issues before they become a problem.
- Copy and pasting would be a great improvement. To add picture to a forum post requires that you save the picture to a file and add it to the posting. This can be extremely time consuming.
- The ability to discard a post before actually posting it. Right now if I start a post I have to post it, then delete it if I want it removed.
This product is well suited for someone who wants a forum or blog community without too much effort on their part.
- Gamification: The ability to incentivise community members to get involved with ranks and badges is one of the main reasons that we purchased the tool.
- Support: The Vanilla support team are incredible, often responding to issues very late at night and proactively fixing issues as soon as they occur.
- Customisation: Vanilla can be completely styled with css allowing us to match it to the branding of the rest of our website.
- Analytics: This is currently a little lacking. It would be great to be able to see user participation by category for example.
- User management: This page often requires refreshing in the browser after changes have been made. It is not the most intuitive system although does the job.
- Roles and permissions: Better explanations of what each setting does would help a new admin such as myself.
Vanilla forums allow us to have a place to interact directly with our members. It also allows them to share their success and health and fitness goals with one another. This ability to share motivates users who may be new or struggling to reach their goals and to find new friends.
- They provide excellent customer service to us on a weekly basis. If we have questions or find something that we'd like improved or even something new we'd like to add to our program, we have a dedicated person we can reach out to who helps us facilitate that change.
- We're fond of their add-ons. We use many of them in our community. Some keep our members engaged on a day to day basis. We really like reactions, the keyword blocker, the civil tongue filter, and a few customized add-ons that Vanilla added specifically for our community.
- They send us notifications for all upcoming releases, and update their software frequently.
- There are some features I wish Vanilla would implement that could improve ease of use in our specific community, but some of the ideas we have are not necessarily something that would benefit all of the forums that Vanilla works with.
- In the past, we've had issues with releases breaking some of our specific site features they built for us, but this has improved drastically recently.
- Vanilla has an easy setup and administration interface. The GUI is easy to use and features drag and drop functionality for some items like category rearrangement.
- Vanilla has both on-prem and cloud hosting options, and provides a dedicated CSR with development resources. Customizations are possible such as styling, banners, and look and feel tweaks to default visual wrappers.
- Vanilla has a decent add-on collection, including antispam, warning system, swear word filter, and more.
- Vanilla's service as it relates to cloud hosting could use some improvement. Communication tends to fall off and is sometimes not as prompt as it could be. CSR to development team interaction and access needs to be more transparent as customers are not typically given direct access to a technical resource that might understand software issues better.
- Some of Vanilla's functionality leaves a lot to be desired, especially as it relates to larger or different types of communities. Some features were clearly not built with worst-case scenario abuse in mind, such as the ability for users to React to posts with clickable buttons (or even to hide posts they feel are Spam or Trolling, easily exploitable by disgruntled users), or the inability to have a limit on how far users can quote or tag one another (resulting in long, unwieldy chains of conversation), or the spam filter's tendency to have a high number of false positives and inability to deal with foreign language spam. Even basic post searching is devoid of any meaningful advanced algorithm, leading to a lot of results that are irrelevant or just not intuitive to end users.
- These are just some of the things Vanilla is ill-equipped to deal with for communities of larger size.
- Vanilla's development team needs to be more responsive and understanding of concerns and criticism regarding software features on their platform. Inadequacies pointed out in the way their software works are often met with an inaccurate passing of the buck towards customers ("teaching users not to abuse the Spam or Troll buttons is a Community Management issue") or with delayed promises of fixes (more robust signature filtering and control is just one example). The software has clear flaws and inabilities to deal with certain abuse scenarios from end-users that it needs to be able to address and not just pass off to customers to better manage communities. Software features need to be better developed with these worst-case scenarios in mind.
- Delivery of some product features or layouts needs to improve. In some cases, asked-for designs have been lacking basic features (such as obvious buttons or features for ease of use) or have outright been delivered as broken (improper floating of graphical assets leading to distortion of the layout, bad sizing on fonts, words, or other text-based elements, or errors for certain testing scenarios for posting).
Combined with the less-than-stellar customer service and communication, this makes a recommendation not likely from my perspective.
Vanilla Forums Scorecard Summary
About Vanilla Forums
Vanilla Forums aims to reinvent the traditional discussion forum, given forums are the original social media and remain a place for meaningful interaction among hundreds of millions of people.
Vanilla Forums Cloud, is a cloud based community software. Below are a few of the features of Vanilla Forums:
-Themes: Customize the look and feel, beyond just header and footer.
-Gamification and reputation system: More than just badges, the reputation engine can be used to promote good content, grant member abilities, and help automate moderation.
-Made for Mobile: Detects the browser agent and applies the most appropriate theme to ensure a great user experience
-Single Sign-on: Vanilla's jsConnect SSO, SAML support and social logins make it easy for users to register. SSO can be configured to be seamless with your existing system.
-API: Vanilla has an easy to use RESTful API.
-Permissions: Control fine-grained, role-based permissions that can be assigned on a per-discussion-category basis. Assign multiple roles to individual users. Roles can be set manually, based on registration workflow, via SSO and via the API.
-Spam Prevention: Powerful tools to keep your community forum free of spam.
-Integrations: Salesforce, WordPress, Mailchimp, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more.
Vanilla Forums Screenshots
Vanilla Forums Integrations
Vanilla Forums Competitors
Vanilla Forums Support Options
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Vanilla Forums Technical Details