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Sneak Preview of Community Goal Feed!

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Monday, March 06, 2017

Update: The Community Goal Feed is now launched -- let me know what you think! Our team told me that it might take a few hours for the new app to show up (variable for different Android users) and could be overnight for IOS users).

Hi Everyone

I’m posting this blog early to give you a sneak peek at a new feature launching in the next day or two on both the site and in the SP app. I hope you like it! We have been working hard on the technology behind this feature for many months. If you followed my blog when I was posting last year, you'll notice that many elements of this feature are what I was hoping to build back then -- in many ways this turned out better than I hoped :).

Quick additional note: we're launching this feature at the same time on the website and in our app because the feature is integrated in both places. This means that we need to wait for final approval from Apple and Google for the app and that timing can be variable. So we don't know the exact time of the launch, but wanted to give you a preview before the launch.

Hello SparkPeople!

I’m writing to tell you some background and goals for our new Community Goal Feed!

This is an exciting new feature that will motivate you to take one small step to reach your goals in a fun and simple way. With your support, we hope to make this one of the most positive sources of social support in the world.

As part of this launch, we are challenging our members to reach 1 million posts to the Community Feed. I will be posting to the feed just about every day and hope you will join me to both reach your goals and help us reach 1 million posts together!

There are 3 types of posts you can make to the Community Goal Feed:
1) Text post sharing anything you’d like to say
2) Photo with any text you’d like to add
3) Completed goals posted directly to the feed (and include optional comment and/or photo). Goals can be selected from the 4 main areas of: Nutrition, Fitness, Motivation, and Other Goals. The feed will then display the type of goal you selected plus your optional comment. The goal selection process will be easy to understand once you start to make a post.

We’re very excited about having this type of community feed for the first time at SparkPeople building on our longtime supportive community. But I’m especially excited about being able to post Goals directly to the feed. I’ll share more about the reasons for this below.

As quick background, I originally started SparkPeople after putting together a personal improvement program that helped me conquer social anxiety. This program integrated the best of health and fitness with the best of goal-setting, leadership, motivation, and behavioral psychology. A co-worker used the same program and eventually lost 50 pounds and told me I changed her life. She went on to motivate a group of other people who said, “Pat, if you can do it, we can do it!” This was the original “spark” that led to SparkPeople – which then led to reaching our mission to “spark” millions of people to reach their goals using health and fitness as a springboard to success in all areas of life.

We believe this Community Goal Feed is one of the best uses we’ve ever had for this underlying program that integrates these areas in a way that makes it fun to reach goals – both because of the social support and the wide range of goals we’ll all be encouraged to track and share.

Another piece of background is that we have always had 4 main types of features on our site/app:
1) Tracking tools like nutrition and fitness tracker
2) Expert articles and videos from our team
3) A supportive community made up of people motivating each other
4) SparkPoints gamification as a way to make it fun to reach one small goal at a time.

For the first time ever with this community feed, we are integrating all 4 types of features into one main feature! We call this integration of goals into a community feed “socially-enabled goal tracking.” We think this will make the SparkPeople feed unlike any other type of feed and will make it valuable for our members to participate in this feed even if you already use other social feeds like Facebook. We will continue building out this feature including adding goal reports for goals posted to the feed plus several other ideas.

The Community Goal Feed can become a central place for all of us to “hang out” for this type of accountability to each other and to both motivate other people and be motivated by others – and have fun together. I plan to post to the feed several times per day as a way to keep me motivated and accountable to reach my goals. You can think of posting and commenting to the feed as a simple challenge that could change your life!

We hope to build a community spirit where we comment on each other’s posts for support and motivation. We’ve always seen in our community that even the smallest comments can make a big impact on someone. You don’t have to be an expert to motivate someone else. Every person has an ability to motivate other people. Even “liking” posts is a great way to show your support to other members. Once you start doing this, you might find that it’s addictive to spark other people to reach their goals by being a Healthy Leader and this positivity will translate to your own life.

If you are interested in updates on the feed, just follow my blog and I’ll send out periodic announcements.

We want to make this the most motivational and useful tools around for reaching goals in a fun environment.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you posting to the SparkPeople Community Goal Feed!

Here is a quick screenshot showing how the feed will look:


Chris “SparkGuy” Downie
SparkPeople Founder/CEO

PS To answer a couple of questions below:
1) This will not replace your Friend Feed
2) Yes, this will definitely appeal to people maintaining their weight. For example, there are goal options like "Listened to a motivational song" or "Read a motivational quote" plus many others that don't have anything directly to do with weight loss.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I use what is helpful for me and ignore the rest.
    827 days ago
    I was very tempted to leave Spark People because the new start page really does not work for me. Instead I ignore it mostly and I am figuring out how to get to the teams I love and just stay there and hide. It's sad because I loved how easy it was to access the things I used. Did I think the points were a good idea? I think they were kind of addictive and took away from what we were really trying to accomplish... but the constant change of things to read when I open my page is too much like Facebook which I really don't care for. Sorry... I have not left but I get a terrible feeling every time I open my spark page with the "loudness" of it all instead of warm fuzzy feelings.
    1099 days ago
    I know enough to give changes a chance. I disliked it at first, but that is typical of any change. Then I realized that staying stagnant can be lethal so change is good. The start page is busy and can be confusing at first. I found that once you get used to it, it is interesting. When I have time constraints I just skip that page entirely. To those who hate the new start page, I say, "Use the new page to enhance your journey and broaden your mind instead of looking at it as a bad thing!"
    1100 days ago
  • JANET552
    I can't say I like it. I still think the last two major changes have made it harder for me to connect with my friends.
    1100 days ago
    Can you make the feed smaller? I like that I can still access items I still want on the right side, like the blogs, friend feed, etc. However, I miss having some great articles be the main thing I see.

    Do I have to see an enormous feed? Just a suggestion. Down size it just a bit if you can.
    1101 days ago
    Honestly, I really want to get on, log my activities, check in on my friends and get off. It seems much harder to do this and I switch to another site. I also miss the team points. Is it possible for me to set the Start page to my preferences? It is far too busy looking now. I'm disappointed. I don't think this will work for me now.
    1114 days ago
    Agree with SISSYFEB48. Why mess with a good thing? No, why mess with what was a truly great thing? Have you ever received this volume of don't likes on previous changes? The new look even with feed filter is too big, too in your face, while our personal options--what's left of them--is much smaller. I'm waiting for some response from SP to the high level of dislike for the new Facebook SparkPeople.
    1114 days ago
  • AMBER461
    Thanks for sharing, I don't know why people are so petty, they may not like it but others may, you can please some of the people but you cannot please all of them.
    1117 days ago
    I miss the points to the teams. I am not fan of the new setup. It is hard to level up to begin with and removing options to get and give points is going to make it harder. please add the team points back.
    1117 days ago
  • no profile photo CD17169271
    I have repeatedly told SP the "Community Goal" thing is garbage! Removing friend feed a Team Bonus points was a big mistake. Bye-bye, SP! emoticon
    1118 days ago
    I just have to share this ........I for one was not upset ......and as they say, "When life gives you lemons make lemonaid." ........That is what I did on Treasure Trove team that I lead ....... we had a bonus thread and members clamored to the wall to offer their points ...... when gone, I replaced that thread with Question of the day and we play TAG ....... One member gets the Q. of the day for all ...... then end of day he or she TAGS any who participated that day....... In no time, we found now members are running in there daily to see what the question is ....... and best part is that we can share something about ourselves and get to know one another. ..... When the member TAGS someone, then they offer goodie and friend them if not already friends. It is a Win win thing ...... and no one is whining over points ...... we are drinking lemonaid now!.....Spark cheers! ...... emoticon (this is actually lemonaid lol) ...
    1120 days ago
    I had concerns when I first saw it, but I've been here 8 years and know enough to wait and see.
    I also understand that there are millions of Sparkers around the world and not everyone likes the same things that I do.
    Obviously from the degree at which I see it used, it has a LOT of supporters. They may not be posting here or on message boards but in any situation, people vote with their keyboards and the feed is getting a lot of action - a lot more than my teams, I'm sorry to say.

    Thank you for the filter option. Anyone who doesn't like the feed can just make it go away.
    I wonder why they do not just do that instead of demanding it be taken away from those who enjoy using this feature.

    I wonder if you had not removed the red banner team spins, you would have had less opposition?
    Perhaps adding it back as a link to the list on the right hand side of the Start page would soothe some hurt feelings? It wouldn't be enough to satisfy the "my way or else" folks, but then nothing would make them happy except the status quo forever.

    As a 70 year old Sparker I subscribe to the philosophy that:
    "In times of change learners inherit the earth while the learned are perfectly prepared for a world that no longer exists"
    1120 days ago
    Hate it!!! Big thumb down.
    1121 days ago
  • MEMA328
    I have to say I'm in the same boat as most of the comments here. I do NOT like the new start page. I do NOT have a FB account but now feel like I do. I even changed the community feed to those I follow, but what I want is my own Friend Feed back! And not some little out of the way place that I have to click on to get to it.

    Also, seems like most of us want the Team Bonus points back - that was one way of getting some serious points for OUR teams and since it requires so many points just to move up to the next level that helped. And it was FUN watching the pennant flags flutter to see how many points would be revealed.

    And lastly, as with others here, seems like SP wanted the community feed because IT TAKES UP MORE SPACE than my own personal stuff. I'm hoping you get the message.
    1121 days ago
    WOW! You asked and the SP community spoke. It'll be interesting to see how/if SP responds to fix this less than user~friendly, aesthetically unpleasing site. emoticon BB~
    1121 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/12/2017 12:33:25 PM
  • PSALM22
    A slightly different complaint: Sending an email notice, not just making a blog post, would be very helpful and friendly. Over the years I've subscribed to the different "Spark Guy" style teams/blogs/whatever. All were abandoned by SP without notice so I have given up even trying to keep track of where this type of advance notice is announced due to the inconsistencies.It's why I'm not subscribing to the current iteration of the blog - I lack trust in its long-term staying power as a method of notification.

    Another point: Not everybody has fast internet. Even if one can afford it, it doesn't mean it is available. Loading down pages with eye candy can severely impact usability.

    I am an anti-fan of the revised start page for reasons others have already stated. I have mulled checking out other sites such as myFitnessPal, and this may be the final push I need. Whether I leave is still unknown, but the decision is closer today than it has ever been before.
    1122 days ago
  • MATER88
    I feel the same way as everyone who hates these changes. I have been a member since 2008. Even with previous changes I have never thought of just giving up on sparkpeople. Now I am wondering if I will have to find somewhere else. If things don't change back to the much easier previous Start page and all of the features that most everyone want to see back, I may have to leave. I do not have a facebook account and don't want one. I want something that will help me. I am really angry and terribly sad. emoticon
    1122 days ago
    I am not a fan of the chqnges. Just get a customer to something and you change
    1122 days ago
    You guys have been making a lot of changes lately and It is really hard to find stuff. I had to write Sparkcoach to help me out with a couple of things because I was bit confused in what I was looking for.
    Please bring the bonus points back and I will be satisfied. I think everyone enjoyed getting more points for there teams. I really miss it!
    1122 days ago
    Continued: because I express an opinion ? Name calling. ? That's what's sending me away. I can't carry s computer much messier now on my iPhone. So here's my NO.
    1122 days ago
    I am not a fan. It's messy and too similar to a chat room with all the attendant pitfalls ... like hacking. I've turned off photo access, and the new site revamp has made getting to friends more roundabout. One charming sparker called mr a grump .
    1122 days ago
    would you please reconsider making the app community feed a stand alone feature again. found this to be the best filter in and of itself. To be perfectly honest, this new community feed reminds me of the "chat pit" of the early days of the internet and a wannabe version of Facebook. Sorry if that sounds negative, but that's how I feel after trying it out.
    1122 days ago
    Not a fan of the new changes. You incorporated more points for FB, however I closed down that account in January, and have no plans to reopen it. I was a daily Team Point supporter and Friend Feed. I don't like how the Community page is on the Start Page and it's so big. I usually like the changes in which your team makes, but this is not one of them. However, I do appreciate all that your team does to make our lives better.
    1122 days ago
    I hate the new changes - I liked having that page for things that I wanted to have to help my own journey. I'm already on teams and connected to enough people. I find this incredibly frustrating. PLEASE change it back!
    1122 days ago
    I got rid of the Community Feed by selecting MY POSTS and MAKE DEFAULT FILTER.
    1122 days ago
    I'm really upset they took the team spins away. I heard from one of the teams most people didn't use it. Everyone that's posting are complaining that they miss it. I usually have no problem with change and sometimes it's for the better and just takes some getting use to. At this point I'm not a fan.

    1122 days ago
    emoticon Adding a filter made a big difference. It's nice when a small change was made to make the site workable for all.
    1122 days ago
  • CINDY247
    I like it !
    1122 days ago
  • IZZY37
    I appreciate the site is free, and I've been a happy member here for almost 10 years because of that, and the support, and tools and motivation. BUT

    I have set the filter to show my own posts. As I've not made any posts on the feed... my start page is now empty :D However, I'm missing the random article and video links to click on. I think that's what I most used my start page for - as they'd often catch my eye as I went to the spin button, or sometimes I'd just scroll down "because I was already on the page" and click something that looked interesting. So apart from a quick link for the daily spin, and quick link to the food tracker... the start page now serves no purpose whatsoever to me.

    I hope a big rethink from the spark team happens and we get our nice functional start page back.

    IMO A better improvement for the site would to be get rid of all those topics with one word answers - the "did you exercise today", "will you exercise today" those sort of things in the message boards, which replaced/hid all the previous interesting discussion/help request topics. Or at least restrict them into their own "spam" message board or dedicated spark team so they're not cluttering/distracting.
    1123 days ago
    OMW FB wanna be, how old are you? The start page has gone back in time, a 5 year old could have designed it better, I have been here on and off for 10 years and this is the most pathetic change you have made so far, So it looks as though I will not be visiting here much more (even though I paid for Premium recently).

    S Health - My fitness Pal, looks as though we may become better acquainted.

    1123 days ago
    I despise the changes and hate that you dumped the team spins, which many of us found motivating and more of an element of "community building" than that stupid feature that we've had to fight with to turn off or escape from. Since I'm among the members who is definitely not feeling the love from Spark--or even basic respect, I can't imagine ever using the "I love SP" emoticon again, because I just don't enjoy the site as much anymore, since you keep insisting on taking away things I like and tools I use, and foisting useless elements or activities and styles to mimic social media sites that I care nothing about. This camper is NOT happy.
    1123 days ago
    I don't like it.
    1123 days ago
  • MAYIE53
    We may not like it folks but it's here to stay.
    1123 days ago
    Chris - I read your blog with a growing sense of unbelief. I found it hard to understand what you thought a "feed" was, and why you thought it fostered accountability. I wondered why you found combining goals, particularly one time goals ("I listened to something") with the feed to be either unique or particularly helpful. I'll keep reading, and hope to learn.
    1123 days ago
    I don't like the new start page. The new community feed is way to big and unnecessary. if you won't get rid of it at least make it the size our friend feed used to be on the start page. I also don't like that the team bonus points were taken away.

    As some of the others have stated we don't want another Facebook!

    If you want to keep the new format at least give us the option of using the old one.

    Sorry to be so negative but I am just being honest.
    1123 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/10/2017 5:47:19 PM
  • FAITHP44
    These changes seem to have produced a lot of negative emotions from normally positive people. I'm sure we'll get used to it however much we rebel against it at first.

    A few suggestions:

    1) The photographs are huge. Can they be made a bit smaller? Some of them are even pixelated because of their size.

    2) Maybe there could be warnings a week or so in advance of the changes in future

    3) Losing the opportunity to win points for the team has stirred up a lot of negative feeling. That was the part I was most upset about. We all know the points aren't actually worth anything but we still like earning them. Is there any possibility of having them re-instated? Please? Or, as an alternative which might be more effective, is it possible to devise a way that we can click to earn those points while actually visiting our teams. Part of my morning routine is to get enough points to click on 5 teams to get my points (and theirs of course) but the fact is that I only interact with 2 teams. If I had to visit the page of a team to get those points, I might interact with more teams. Just a thought.
    1123 days ago
    I am not a fan.....and normally I wouldn't say anything, but I don't like the community feed for the same reason I don't like's too much...and too many in a world which is too much and too many which is why most of us have needed to come to sparkpeople in the first place. I enjoy encouraging folks in a small setting, but I don't need to know what everyone is doing....that doesn't motivate me, doesn't encourage me, in fact it really tends to discourage me, but I figure that I'm odd and don't fit in anyway. I come to sparkpeople to make a connections which are viable to maintain while I journey onward.
    1123 days ago
    Thanks for adding the "Make this my default filter" button - I appreciate your willingness to respond to the feedback of SP members!
    1123 days ago
    It is confusing and I am spending to much time finding what I need. I don't like or us Face Book, Twitter or any of the others. I like the privet and personal feeling SP had before this change.
    1123 days ago
  • JAJABEE1717
    Do you think SPARKGUY is going to respond to all of these negatives? If what people are posting matters, then the Start Page should immediately be returned to its previous format. Not at all a fan of this new busy FB-style.. Or as many have said "HATE IT".

    1123 days ago
    It's is taking this old-timer awhile to find my way around. I do miss the spark team points but expect I will learn to cope.
    1123 days ago
  • 1958TMC
    1123 days ago
  • no profile photo CD17169271
    Do NOT like the changes, as 99% of the posts I have seen also support. Plus, you removed the Sparkteams points! As one who paid for Premium, as many have, I think the input of all these should carry some more weight (no pun intended) then the input of the office types at SP! emoticon
    1123 days ago
    Well, I'm glad to know your good intentions, SparkGuy, but for me this change is not an aid to attaining my health goals because it's so overwhelming, it's hiding, dwarfing, obliterating the tools I was finding helpful. Perhaps after you attain your goal of 1 million posts, you can put the huge Community Feed under the Community Links and restore some of the features that many of us found helpful for connection, such as the banner points for our teams.
    1123 days ago
    Not a fan! I could go into detail but most of what I'd say has been written below.

    Had this been the format when I joined Spark almost 10yrs ago, I would not have joined.

    I have a Facebook page...which I almost never visit.

    If I want that format, I'll go there - here, I expect my Spark experience to be about ME....and those I've chosen to include....not every Tom, Dick and Harry on the planet.

    These many unsolicited changes are why many of my Spark friends have begun to create groups on platforms other than Spark. I've resisted joining these groups separate from SparkPeople but perhaps they have the right idea - a place where we can make our experience one that benefits ourselves.

    Color me SAD emoticon
    1123 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/12/2017 10:49:48 AM
    I just realized that less than 10% of MY Start Page actually has MY info on it. The rest is a lot of junk that I have to navigate around to get where I want to go. I've already changed my bookmark to my SparkPage so I don't have to be bothered with all this junk.

    Speaking of which, you also never fixed the SparkPages to default to Preview view. I hate seeing all the clutter of Edit buttons on a page that I might edit once every three months if that.
    1123 days ago
    hate it
    1123 days ago
    Thank you for all that you are doing to keep us healthy. I have a problem with keeping up with everything that you offer except for tracking my food, reading some blogs and answering some email from the teams that I belong to. I am a caregiver 24/7 to my husband and do not have that much time for myself since I'm on call all the time. I'm hanging in there and I will not give up or into anything that is not on my program.
    1123 days ago
    Count me in the THUMBS DOWN column. The new start page is awful. The only posts I've added to the community feed are ones to encourage people to speak out on the message boards to ask for further changes. What I miss about the old start page: additional video, article, and recipe suggestions; the team points; the FRIEND feed (not the random people I don't know sh!t feed). Give us the ability to customize the start page the way each of us want it to be, rather than forcing us all down a frickin' rabbit hole that we hate and can't get out of.

    I sure hope you get enough negative comments about these changes to rethink your strategy.
    1123 days ago
    Hate it. I might be able to live with it if the filter stayed set so I didn't have to see everyone's post every morning. What I dislike the most is that it is hard to get to my teams where I like to show up every day. Cumbersome, intrusive, aggraving.

    This is a case of too much of a good thing, is just too much.

    1123 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.