It’s been a while, but if you’re new to Hotcakes Commerce, you may not realize that we once had a thriving community section here on the site where people of all backgrounds and regions would come together to discuss implementations and other e-commerce scenarios. It was quite fun to see everyone chime in with their various perspectives to help each other. We closed the communication section temporarily and provided support exclusively through our support channel. Well, you have all spoken, and it seems that the community is missed. So it’s back!
Notes From the Past
In the previous community area, it wasn’t very conducive to an actual discussion. It was frustrating to many since it was purely based upon questions and answers. This was convenient for the technical folks that have grown to love places like StackOverflow (no need to go there if you don’t already know what it is). However, everyone else found the question and answer format to be highly confusing. The average person never knew when to post an answer or a leave a comment. As the community manager, we often found ourselves trying to coach people through how to use the basic Q&A features, which is one of the reasons we took down the community to begin with.
We realize that temporarily closing our previous community area wasn’t supported by everyone, but it was something we needed to try as a business. Like with most businesses, sometimes you have to make unpopular decisions to test other ideas to see what can have the greatest impact on all stakeholders. We learned a lot from this process, and at this time it appears that the community is due to come back.
The Present and Future Community
The new community format should be very familiar to everyone. Our community will now be driven by forums. Forums have been around for a long time, so the discussion-based activity will be very easy to follow, and it will be even easier for new folks to learn from and participate in.
One of the great things that we loved doing in the past, was recognizing members of the community who were doing an amazing job with their participation. This kind of recognition was built into the Q&A format, but it’s also going to be in the new forums area as well, in a few ways. First, you can thank people for their posts and be thanked. This is the equivalent to our habitual “liking” habits instilled into us by the likes of Facebook. This will surely become a badge of honor for many.
Speaking of badges… There will be stinking badges! (The older of us will get that pun.) Well, okay. They’re not “badges” but “medals.” Same thing really. The more you participate, the more badges you can earn. It will be interesting to see who can actually win them all. You’ll have to try all kinds of participation to see what kind of medals you might earn.
I said “stinking” badges, didn’t I? I guess it’s time for another pun. If the badges are too rank for you, you’ll have the opportunity to earn rank as well. This is also based upon your participation. So, the more you post and reply, the more reputation you build. When you see others with interesting and higher reputations, you know that you’re speaking with someone who’s been around a while and is likely to be a fountain of knowledge.
If that weren’t enough, community members will be able to get points from all kinds of activities. We’re launching a community points system very soon that can aggregate your activity and award you points accordingly. This will not just be limited to the forums, but other areas as well. More details will be announced about this as we get closer to launching the feature.
It’s worth noting that not all of this is launched today. We’ll be incrementally releasing and improving upon these over the coming weeks.
Why Should You Participate?
There’s all kinds of reasons you should participate in our community. One reason is of course to get or give help. That one is obvious, but here some other ones that are easy to call out…
- Get New Perspectives & Opinions: Perhaps you simply need a sounding board. Am I doing this right? Should I be thinking about using this feature, or that one?
- Network with Others That Do What You Do: There’s nothing better for your business than building up relationships with people that do things that compliment what you do. It’s invaluable.
- Build Up Your Personal and/or Business Brand: Branding isn’t just about your logo. It’s also about how, where, and how strongly people perceive you to be in terms of the value you can provide to them. Your participation will benefit you in this area immensely.
- Build Credibility to Generate Leads: This is almost a symptom of the previous point. The better you’ve built your brand for any topic, the more that your brand is thought of first when someone needs something.
- Get a Rush From Helping Others: There’s no two ways about it. There is indeed an intrinsic satisfaction you get when you find out that you’ve helped someone solve a nagging issue. This could be your way to pay it forward.
- Increase the SEO and Content Marketing Strategy for Your Business: SEO and marketing often depend upon the things you’re doing off of your own site, in addition to what you’re doing on your own.
Participating in any community not only helps the members of the community itself that are directly participating with you, but it’s also helping Hotcakes Commerce in general. Basically, the better Hotcakes gets, the better it will be for everyone else that uses it too. You and your team are the reason that Hotcakes is great.
Frequently Asked Questions
We have no doubt that you might have some questions we haven’t addressed in the announcement above. So we’ve compiled a list of some expected questions. If you have any others, please feel free to leave a comment.
Who can post in the community area? Anyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re using Hotcakes yet or not, or whether you have a Cloud or On Premise license plan. All are welcome to use and benefit from our community. Just be sure to review the guidelines at the bottom of any forum page.
What can I post in the new community area? There are already a number of sections where you can post nearly any kind of question. We’ll ask that all questions relate to Hotcakes and your site in some way, but there is an open forum there. Also, you can ask about code, development, design, implementation, administration, or anything else. While you can post code here, you may also feel free to continue to use StackOverflow as well. We’ll still keep our eyes there too.
What about the content in the previous community area? There’s no doubt. There were thousands of questions and answers in the previous community area. However, Hotcakes itself has had so many updates that the previous questions and answers are largely irrelevant at this point. Simply put, the screenshots, code, and directions given to folks would no longer be correct. Instead, most of that content now already exists in our documentation area. Also, from a technical perspective, there’s no straightforward way to import that content into a forum format.
When are the other features all scheduled to begin to appear? We don’t have a solid schedule for each element that’s planned to appear. We instead will release each of them as they’re ready.
Will there be a community newsletter again? Absolutely. We’re definitely committed to highlighting the great things that you all do within our community. This is part of what we plan to do in order to ensure that each of you can achieve the greatest amount of value from the community.
Do I use the new community forums or support? At this point, you can use either. If you use the forums, you’ll have the benefit of potentially getting multiple perspectives on how to do something. Also, with a world-wide audience, you could potentially even get responses more quickly than expected – especially during holiday periods.
What is going to happen to support? We have no official announcements about the dedicated support area at this time. Like with everything else, we plan to measure and make decisions accordingly. However, at this point you can rest easy knowing the community is going to be here to stay this time.