What's the best way to manage an AMA in Vanilla?

AndrewLapidus Vanilla Seedling
edited June 2023 in Talk Community #1

Hi all - we are interested in planning an AMA event within our community which would only be open to a select group of super-users. I was wondering if anyone had some best practices on how best to manage this in Vanilla, as I can imagine the lack of threaded comments (as in Reddit) could quickly make things complicated. Does anyone have experience managing an AMA who could give insight as to some best practices here?

Edit: One element we've considered is that our AMA would be hosted in its own category — we imagined that this could potentially allow users to simply post their questions anywhere within the category, and discussions/responses could be threaded into each of these individual question posts. Just a thought!


  • BrendanP
    BrendanP HLV Staff
    edited November 2023 #2

    Hey @AndrewLapidus this is a great topic as I think folks are always looking for different ways to engage their community and certainly Reddit has made the AMA format popular. I would agree that threaded comments certainly make that sort of Q&A experience a little easier to follow.

    A few things I've seen some of our customers do over the years:

    Anaplan would host a live AMA then post a recap in the community:


    Nanit also does something similar, I am actually a Nanit customer myself so I can see a little bit more. They use the events module to promote the events in the community but also because it is a mobile app that's connected to our baby monitor, I notice some smart 'calls to actions' to let people know about the event:

    I know you said it was a smaller group but it's always good to think about how you can make your community and its content as discoverable as possible.

    Maybe @Mackenzie can share some insights on what's worked and what hasn't.

    Another option I believe I've seen somewhere but I can't specifically recall where is capturing the questions ahead of time and then hosting a live Zoom meeting to go over them and afterward posting a written out recap to the community to share with those that couldn't attend.

  • AndrewLapidus
    AndrewLapidus Vanilla Seedling

    Thanks a ton @BrendanP for the extremely thoughtful and helpful answer!

    I really appreciate the example from Qualtrics — the fact that the Q&A guest answers all the questions after the initial wave of questions actually makes it much more manageable to read than I had first assumed. I think we'll first try to use this sort of "partly live" format to keep our product team as comfortable as possible.

    Also really like the idea of promoting the AMA through the events widget!

    Your point about the discoverability of the content is very well taken — we're always trying to strike a balance between providing "VIP" incentives to our most engaged users and high-value customers, but I think you're right that it's worth considering whether we're actually shutting other users out from what's may in the end be some of our most engaging content.

    I'd also be happy to here Mackenzie's insight, but in any case, I'll keep the thread updated with our experience!

    Best wishes and thanks again,


  • AndrewLapidus
    AndrewLapidus Vanilla Seedling

    Hi @Mackenzie! Thanks so much for taking the time to share such valuable insight — you've covered so many of the little preparatory details which had so far escaped our brainstorms!

    We're also very highly motivated to ensure that the event is a positive experience for both our users and our "experts," so your advice on the proper compilation and organization of questions into Google Docs great to hear.

    Thanks again so much - I'll be sure to reach out in this thread again with any questions or updates on our experience!



  • I want to toss in a quick note about generating the spreadsheet with the questions!

    It would be a relatively simple matter to set up a Zap on Zapier to capture questions asked within a particular category and output the necessary information (such as Title, Link, and Body) into a Google Sheet.

    You could also do a one-time API call when you were done accepting questions to export all the questions into a CSV file! The call would look something like this:


    If you have more than 100 questions, you'll need to run that multiple times, incrementing the page=X each time.

  • Mackenzie
    Mackenzie Vanilla Seedling

    @Branwyn T thanks for sharing! This would save us a lot of time, at least on the export side. Would this work to pull all questions from a specific thread, versus a category? We host our AMA's in a designated AMA thread. Thanks!

  • AndrewLapidus
    AndrewLapidus Vanilla Seedling

    Thanks for sharing, @Branwyn T! We sometimes create discussion threads asking for beta testers, so this tip will also be very handy for us to quickly pull the usernames/e-mails of users who comment on a discussion.

  • Bee
    Bee Vanilla Bean

    That's very insightful! Thanks for sharing @Mackenzie. You mentioned in your previous comment that you email the members that have RSVP'd. Is this a manual process or is there built-in functionality?

  • Mila
    Mila HLV Staff
    edited February 2023 #11

    Hi @jmanion I didn't want to put you on the spot but I know that your community have hosted several Ask Me type sessions and continue to 😄 I saw this is the latest

    Please feel free to share any tips and tricks you have!

  • Mackenzie
    Mackenzie Vanilla Seedling

    @Bee unfortunately it's manual! We create an event in community and have members RSVP by clicking going. If it's a small number of RSVPs, I manually copy and paste their emails and send them a message through our community@ address.

    For bigger events, we worked with a developer to write a script that will export the email addresses of all attendees which we can then email or upload to the Zoom webinar registration list. It cost us ~$200 to get set up, but is definitely a bandaid as we wait for the Vanilla/Zoom integration to be a bit stronger. Here's an idea I've been pushing for to support the automation via Zapier if you want to upvote it! :)

  • AndrewLapidus
    AndrewLapidus Vanilla Seedling

    Hello! Thanks again for all the excellent insight in this thread! I wanted to follow up and ask about creating a zap to pull comments from a specific discussion — I saw the option in Zapier to pull comments within a specific category, but didn't see where to select a specific thread. Was this done via customization?



  • Mackenzie
    Mackenzie Vanilla Seedling
    edited March 2023 #14


    @AndrewLapidus I actually used vanilla's api for this since Zapier wasn't able to pull comments on a thread. Here's the format I used. Just make sure you're logged in as an admin and paste that into your browser (with the site, category id, and discusison id inputted) - you'll get a CSV export of the comments on a thread. If there are more than 100, you'lll have to do it twice and change page=1 to page =2 the second time.
    https://community.yoursite.com/api/v2/comments.csv?page=1&limit=100&categoryID=[insert category id]&discussionID=[insert discussion id]