Since you are reading this page then it is safe to say to that you already know basic website navigation such as typing web addresses, clicking through links and maybe even watching or listening to multimedia. What we’ll do here is try to familiarise you with how to use our forum and its many options.
When you read this article this you will be able to reply to existing posts as well as make new posts. You will know how to format your text, make links, add images and videos and much more. We’re not going to teach you how to use every little button or forum feature but rather provide you sufficient knowledge to feel comfortable enough to be involved in the forum. After that, you can do experiment on your own to learn more.
Set up your profile
When you find a community and forum that you like and plan on staying for a while it is a good idea to set up and complete your profile. You access your profile by clicking the My Profile menu tab located at the top of the forum.
On the profile summary page you will see a number of tabbed areas that contain information about the posts you have made, the forum categories or topics you are subscribed to (more about this later), favourite topics, “thank yous”, and details of any attached files you have added to your forum posts.
Changing your profile
To add to or change your current profile information, find the Edit button located on the right side of the line where you see “Profile for <your username>”. There are three tabbed areas where you can change your user account (e.g. email address, password, current timezone), forum profile (e.g. date of birth, gender, forum signature, etc.), and preferred forum settings (e.g. do you want to see posts listed “oldest post first” or “newest post first”). Remember to press the Save button if you change any of your forum profile information.
Reply to an existing topic
So, you have been looking at the forum for a while reading every post and getting to know everyone. You have just read someone’s post and you have decided to reply and contribute your own thoughts. This is done by pressing one of the “reply” buttons.
- Quick Reply - brings up a small text area (without reloading the webpage) where you can quickly type a short reply. Press Submit when you have typed your response. If you decide not to submit your message to the forum, you can press Cancel and nothing will be posted whether you typed anything or not.
- Reply - is the standard method in which you should reply when you want to reply primarily to the most recent post. The subject line of your reply will autofill with the subject of the post from which you are replying. You can change the subject. You are looking at what is called a “text editor”; it is like a trimmed-down version of a word processor (such as Microsoft Word) in which you can format your text, add links, images, “smileys”, etc. More on how to format your post later. For now, type your response and press the Preview button at the bottom of the page if you wish to view your post prior to submitting it. When you are done editing and are satisfied your post is ready, press the Submit button.
- Quote - If you wish to quote someone’s post (whether in whole or in part) you simply press the Quote button located beside the Reply button underneath each post. This can be useful if you wish to make comment or expand upon a prior post. The Quote feature copies the entire post (“wrapped” in [quote] [/quote] tags) that you can edit if you wish. Once you press the Quote button you are brought into the same editing environment that you use to edit or create any other post. At this point, you type directly into the text editor. When you are finished composing your message, press the Submit button.
- Reply Topic - This button functions the same as the Reply button except that your subject line will autofill with the subject of the original post (OP). This may come in handy if you replying to a long topic whose subjects may have changed over time but you want to reply to the OP. When you are done replying, press the Submit button.
Create a new post of your own
To create your own topic (perhaps to tell us a little about yourself) you should go to the category index to see the list of all of the existing topics. At the top of the list is a button labelled New Topic. Click that button to start your own topic. You are placed at the same text editor that you used earlier when replying to posts. Simply type your message and press Submit. Now you have your own new topic in the list.
Format your post
As we said earlier, the forum text editor is very similar to using word processor. As in any word processor you can format your text with added emphasis, add lists, insert images and much more.
The first, basic thing you should know is that the forum uses what's called BBcode or Bulletin Board Code. BBcode uses “tags” to format your text. Each BBcode tag has an opening and closing form denoted within brackets. An opening tag will look like [ ] and a closing tag looks like [/ ]. Notice the slash in the closing bracket is the only thing that is different. If you forget the slash, the forum will interpret your closing bracket as an opening bracket.
The easiest way to format your text is usually to type it out first, then select the text you have typed and press the appropriate button on the editor toolbar. For example, if you wanted to make “some text” stand out bold you would type “some text”, select the text with your mouse, and then press the “B” icon in the toolbar (in the area above where you are composing your message). You will now see: [b]some text[/b]. When you preview or submit your message it will be displayed as some text. Alternatively, if you know them, you can type the tags right along with the rest of your text or you can use the buttons at the top of the editor to insert the tags the fill in your text.
There are two types of lists: ordered and unordered. An ordered list is a numerical list like you might use to list the finishing order of a race. An unordered list is a list you might use to list groceries. There are two different tags needed to create a list.
First, you use a tag that creates the kind of list you want.
[ul] [/ul] = unordered list [ol] [/ol] = ordered list
Second, you use a list tag for each item in the list
[li] [/li] = each list item.
So, the code for an ordered list would look like this:
[ol] [li] 1st place[/li] [li] 2nd place[/li] [li] 3rd place[/li] [/ol]
Embedding a video in your post is a feature of the forum and makes use of many video sharing websites on the web. This allows people to embed their videos with the means to play them in the forum. Once you have a video that you want to post you need to find the unique identifier in the URL to that video.
It’s difficult to provide detailed instructions or examples here, so this will be basic. Understand that each video sharing website uses a unique identifier for each video. For example, this video from YouTube whose URL is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqJE5TH5jhc. You need to know the video’s unique identifier (which differs depending on what site you visit); in this example, the unique identifier is bqJE5TH5jhc. Once you know what that unique identifier is you can embed that video in our forum by selecting the video hosting website from the “video” drop-down list in the editor tools or by typing the following:
[video type=] [/video]
If you were embedding a video from YouTube, for example, the bbcode would end up looking like this:
[video type=youtube] <insert_unique_identifier_here> [/video]
[video type=youtube] bqJE5TH5jhc [/video]
It's a good idea to preview your post to make sure the video is visible before submitting your completed post.
Edit your own post
There will be times when you make a post and you don't notice a misspelled word, fix a broken link or something that will require you to edit you post. When you are looking at one of your own posts that you need to change you will find the Edit button at the bottom of your post. Simply press the edit button and you use the same editor you used to create your post populated with the actual post. Edit your post as you see fit and, when you are satisfied, press the Submit button at the bottom of the page. All done!
Saying “Thank You”
If you read something on our forum and you would like to show your appreciation for someone’s contribution, a really easy thing to do is to click the Thank You button located below the forum post. Occasionally it’s a welcome gesture when people give thanks for the efforts of others who may have helped solve a problem or if they have gone “above and beyond the call of duty” in a post they have written.
Subscriptions and favourite topics
Now that you have settled into your new community and everyone has met you, you want to be able to keep up with your favourite posts without checking in every five minutes to see if something new has posted. There a couple of ways that you can do that.
At the top and the bottom of every topic you will find a Subscribe button. Pressing this button subscribes you to that topic so that any responses to that topic will generate an email notification to your email address stating that a new post has been made along with a link directly to said post for your convenience. You will notice the button now reads “unsubscribe” indicating that you are subscribed and pressing the button again will remove your subscription to that thread. Remember that you can also manage your subscriptions in your profile. There is also a category Subscribe button that will send you email notifications of any post made in any topic in that category.
Another way of highlighting topics that wish to keep an eye on is to use the Favorite button. This will place an obvious indicator, such as a star, beside the topic name on the category index so that it will stand out in the list of topics. You will notice the button now reads “unfavorite” indicating that the topic is already one of your favourites; pressing the button again will remove it from your favourites. This is a great way to maintain your interest on certain topics without using the subscription feature. Remember that you can also manage your favourites in your profile.
Now that you know how to create your own posts, edit them, set notifications, etc, you are ready to explore the rest of the forum. Don’t be afraid. Go click things and see what they do. If something “breaks” or you don’t understand how to use something make a post in the forum and ask for help.
Stay focused on what's imported by staying on topic. Most people have limited time and losing focus half way through a discussion is a good way to end a discussion prematurely.
Be kind to newcomers
Always be kind to new members of the community. They don’t always ask the right questions or clearly explain their needs; most of us started this way. It’s OK to point out when people make mistakes. There’s an old saying: there’s no such thing as a dumb question; it’s how you choose to respond that matters.
Find a way
The first instinct when hitting an issue is to simply post. However, everyone is encouraged to check out existing resources first—Google is wonderful—and try searching the forum to see if your issue has already been addressed.
Try to keep replies trimmed and clean by only quoting what is relevant. Avoid quoting quotes of quotes of quotes of …
We get the picture.
Spam is an unfortunate reality but please don’t make it worse by replying to it! If you see spam then report it. We try our best to avoid you seeing spam but sometimes these things slip through the cracks.
Calm and collective
Try not to SHOUT AT PEOPLE WHEN POSTING. It’s very annoying and read as yelling. No one wants to be yelled at. Ending setences with multiple exclamation points is also discouraged; we get the picture about that, too.
Let the dead be dead
Dead and outdated topics should be left just that; dead. Resurrecting old forum posts pushes old, usually non-relevant, content to the top and can be quite confusing. When in doubt, make a new topic instead of replying to old topics.
Attachments are great for sharing screenshots, simple code or other things of that nature; too many pf them is like being bombarded by flies! Keep them minimal as needed. Use external sources for large attachments. Avoid sharing anything that requires a download and be sure to always explain the purpose of your attachment.
Subject identity crisis
Having a clear and specific subject for your topic will allow your topic to quickly be identified and answered appropriately. Don’t confuse the community with incredibly vague topic subjects or subjects that have nothing to do with the topic! Examples of subjects are “Please help me” or “Doesn’t work”, etc.
Patience is a virtue
Be patient and avoid things like “urgent!" or “important!” in your subject and topic. Avoid bumping topics. Everyone will get their turn!