Getting started with the forum

Grab a cup of your favorite drink, sit back, and enjoy the read.

This guide is the one-stop shop to bring you up to speed with our forum. Don’t worry though, this guide isn’t going anywhere, you’ll be able to reference back to it at any point.


Basic Forum Terms

Here are some very basic terms that will be helpful to keep in mind as you use Discourse or read this guide:

  • Topic: A topic is a collection of messages grouped together in a meaningful conversation, with a title, listed in a category, beginning with an Original Post and including all replies in chronological order. (Lots of new terms, I know! But, you’ve got this :sunglasses:)

Elsewhere, this might be called a ‘thread’ but here, we use ‘topic’.

  • Title: Each topic has its own descriptive title. It makes understanding what a topic is about easy for people browsing the forum.

  • Post: Each element of a topic is referred to as a post. Each post has its own author and can be moved to a different topic if necessary, or even become the start of a new topic.

  • Original Post (or OP): The first post in any topic. This is key since it determines the focus of the topic and is what the title and tags will link to.

  • Category: The primary means of organizing topics. Each topic is placed in exactly one category. Categories have permissions which can restrict which users can create, reply, and see its topics. You can also configure notification preferences per category or even mute them as explained below.

  • Tag: A marker placed on a topic to describe it. While a topic can only have one category, it can have multiple tags.


Browsing the Forum

Topic lists

When you first visit the forum, you’ll land our the forum homepage, which is broken into 3 main sections.

  • Header & search - we’re believers in searching first. Our community is constantly creating content and may have already answered your question previously. Think of it like a community knowledge base.
  • Categories - categories help us to manage various types of conversation.
  • Topics - Underneath Categories, you’ll see a list of topics for you to jump straight into the conversation.

See who is participating

There are several ways to see who is involved in the conversation.

  • In a topic list view (found on the homepage, within categories, when searching, and when browsing tags), you’ll see profile icons for who is participating in that topic.
  • On each post within a topic, you’ll see details about the person who created the post
  • The OP tells you; who created the post and when, gives a count of the replies and views in this topic to date and a siplay of the avatars of the most frequent participants.

Navigation tools

  • For The chat, Search, or your User menu, use the icon buttons at the upper right.

If you’re ever stuck with where you are within the forum, and you just want to start from the homepage again, click or tap the forum logo in the header.

Jump back into a topic

  • When in a topic list view, clicking on a topic title will take you to your last read post in the topic. To enter at the top or bottom instead, click the reply count or last reply date

Taking Part in conversations

Replying

Press any Reply button to open the editor panel at the bottom of your browser. You can continue reading (and even search or navigate to different topics) while you compose your reply.

The forum shows all posts in the order they are published. It does not make you chase down multiple threaded paths. However, it still gives you lots of ways to follow the conversation.

There are 2 main ways platforms organise conversations:

  • Threaded replies nest replies under the post/message being replied to. Imagine how Facebook posts work.
  • Referenced replies reference back to the post/message being replied to. Imagine how Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp work.

Our forum uses referenced replies where the conversation in a topic is chronological and any replies reference back to the post being replied to.

Drafts

Drafts will automatically be saved as you write. If you minimise the editor or navigate to a different topic, the editor might disappear. To open a draft, return to the topic you were replying to or click the highlighted bar at the bottom of your browser, and the editor will reappear with your draft.

Quoting

To insert a quote, select the text you wish to quote, then press the Quote button that pops up. There is no need to quote a whole message: it helps to be specific. Repeat this for multiple quotes even from different posts and different users. The quoted text will point to their original source.

Mentioning

To notify someone about your reply, mention their name. Type @ to begin selecting a username. This search will also search the name fields in case you don’t know a particular username.

Formatting

Your reply can be formatted using simple HTML, BBCode, or Markdown:

This is <b>bold</b>.
This is [b]bold[/b].
This is **bold**.

Actions and reactions

There are action buttons at the bottom of each post:

  • To let someone know that you enjoyed and appreciated their post, use the like button. Share the love!
  • Grab a copy-pasteable (permalink) link to any reply or topic via the link button.
  • Use the … button to reveal more actions: Flag to privately let the author, or the site staff, know about a problem.
  • Edit to edit your post, if possible.
  • Bookmark to find this post later on your profile page:

Notifications

When someone is talking directly to you – by replying to you, quoting your post, mentioning your @username, or even linking to your post – a blue number will immediately appear over your profile picture at the top right.

When you have been sent a Personal Message you will receive this in your Inbox and a green number will appear over your profile picture to the left.

Click your profile image to scroll through all your notifications. Some notifications display icons instead of a dot.

You can optionally receive all these notifications as push notifications to your desktop browser or Android device. Simply allow the site to send you notifications through your browser when it asks permission.

Don’t worry about missing a reply — you’ll be emailed any notifications that arrive when you are away.

If you want, you can get notified about other things happening on the site as well, either at the category or topic level.

Topic notifications

You can change your notification level for any individual topic via the notification control at the bottom of each topic, or at the end of the timeline on the right of the topic, if the topic is long.

Category notifications

Notification level can also be set per category. To change any of these defaults, see your user preferences, or visit the category page, and use the notification control above the topic list, on the right side.

Tag notifications

Notification level can even be set per tag. To change any of these defaults, go to your user Preferences > Notifications > Tags:

Whether you’re on a category or tag on which you have set a notification setting, you can change it by clicking the bell icon next to the New topic button.


And that’s it! It might be a little overwhelming to begin with, but we’re all in this together. We’re all going to be learning and getting used to how things work, so have patience with each other. Good luck, and if you have any questions, or want to learn more about how something works, feel free to ask!

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