Forum User Guide

Welcome! As a new user of the forum, we hope you will find it easy to use… but just in case, here is some guidance to get you started.

Basic Terms

Here are some basic terms that will be helpful to keep in mind:

  • Topic:
    A collection of posts grouped together in a meaningful conversation, with a title, listed in a category, beginning with a first post, and including all replies in chronological order. Sometimes, this is also traditionally known as a thread.

  • Post:
    Each element of a topic is referred to as a post (you can think of it as a comment on a topic). 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.

  • Category:
    The primary means of organizing topics. Each topic is placed in exactly one category. You can configure notification preferences per category or even mute them as explained below.

Browsing the Forum

Topic lists

By default, the homepage will show all the categories that exist in the forum, but you can choose to browse the forum in a number of ways on the top menu of the site:

  • By Category: in the menu line, click the ‘Categories’ title and a list of all the categories appears.

  • By Latest: these are the most recent posts on the whole forum.

  • By what topics are “Unread”: unread topics are those that you have previously chosen to watch, and that have new posts (replies) submitted to them. Unread topics show a number in a blue circle indicating how many new posts are in the topic.

  • By what’s ‘New’ to you: by default, new topics are those created in the last 2 days that you have not opened yet to keep the list fresh and relevant. New topics show a small blue dot next to the topic title

  • By level of activity: if you click on ‘Top’, the conversation topics will be listed in order of most activity (views and replies) for a customizable time period.

See who is participating in a discussion

There are several ways to see who is involved in topics.

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On any list of topics, you will see a row of avatars (profile pictures) of:

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  • the user who started the topic (always the first photo);
  • a selection of the most active participants;
  • and, who created the most recent post (usually the last photo).
  • In some cases, the first photo has a blue border or blue halo to indicate that the original poster is also the most recent poster:

The box at the bottom of the first post in each topic tells you who created the post and when, gives a count of the replies and views in this topic to date, and a display of the avatars of the most frequent participants.

Navigation Tools

For Search, the Menu, or your User page, use the icon buttons on the upper right corner of the site.

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Your own personal menu (where you can change your settings, see your drafts or log out) can be found by clicking first your avatar, then your username.

Reading Topics

Keep scrolling

Click a topic title and read down the list of replies in chronological order, following links or previewing replies and quotes as you go. Use your mouse to scroll the screen, or use the timeline scroll bar on the right which also shows you how far through the conversation you’ve read. On smaller screens, select the bottom progress bar to expand it.

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Click on the dates on the top and bottom of the timeline scrollbar to be quickly taken to the first and last post respectively.
Whilte reading a topic, clicking on its title will take you to the first post.

Jump back in

  • Selecting a topic title in any list of topics will take you to your last read post in that topic.

  • To enter at the top ↑ or bottom ↓ instead, click the reply count or last reply date.

  • Topics above the light red line on a list are new or updated since your last visit. If you have read all the way to the end of a topic, the title will be light grey instead of black.

Taking Part in Conversations

Replying

There are 2 ways of replying to a topic:

  • You can reply at the end of the topic (blue Reply button), to continue the general conversation.
  • If you wish to reply to any post within the topic, hit the grey Reply button underneath that specific post. Your reply will be linked from that post, so that people can more easily follow the conversation.

To the right side of the editor, you’ll see a preview of the post you’re writing, and small links that will allow you to resize or hide the editor.

You can continue reading (and even search or navigate to different topics) while you compose your reply. A draft of your reply will be saved and displayed to you when you return to the topic.

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 the 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.

Emoji

To use standard Emoji, just type : to match by name, or traditional smileys ;)

Alternatively, click on more to see a complete list of emoji to select from.

Oneboxes (Link Previews)

To generate a summary for a link, paste it on a line by itself. To start a topic with a link, paste the link into the title field.

You can read more details about this feature in: https://meta.discourse.org/t/rich-link-previews-with-onebox/98088

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**.

For more formatting tips, try this 10 minute tutorial.

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 :heart: button. Share the love!

  • To share a post, grab a copy-pasteable link to any post via the link :link: button. To share a whole topic, look for the Share button at the end of the topic.

  • Use the button to reveal more actions. Flag to privately let the author, or the site staff, know about a problem. Bookmark to find this post later on your profile page.

Reporting a Post (aka Flags)

If you see bad behavior or a problematic post, don’t reply to it — just flag it. You’ll find the flag icon on the button at the end of each post.

If several people flag a topic or post, action will be taken, either automatically or by moderator intervention.

When flagging a post, you can choose one of several options to let the moderators know what is wrong with the post, or choose to send the author a private message regarding their post.

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.

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, and right hand side, of each topic.

There are links on the “hamburger” menu that will lead you to a list of topics you’re currently Tracking or Watching.

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.

Your Profile

When you click on a person’s avatar anywhere on the forum, their user card will pop up. The user card gives a quick overview of that member’s information, replacing the traditional signature.

Clicking on the avatar a second time will take you to that person’s complete profile on the forum. The :postcrossing: symbol will take you to their Postcrossing profile.

Some of the information displayed in the profile and user card (eg, the person’s name, location or number of exchanged postcards) is automatically imported from their Postcrossing profile, while the rest is configurable on the Profile Preferences.

You can customize your profile by going to your personal menu by selecting first on your avatar on the top right corner of the site, then selecting your username, and lastly choosing Preferences.

Additionally, you can choose to hide all your personal information and public features on the forum, by selecting the “Hide my public profile and presence features” on the Interface tab of your Preferences.

Private Messages

The forum has an internal inbox, through which you can exchange private messages with other members. You’ll find the link to your mailbox, as well as a list of your latest messages by clicking your avatar on the top right corner. Click the envelope :email: twice to be taken to the inbox.

When a message is no longer relevant, simply Archive it. To remove yourself from a conversation (and thus delete it from your inbox), use the Add or Remove... button underneath the first message in the conversation.

Group messages are enabled in the forum. If you’d like to start a group message, just write the usernames of all the participants in the recipients’ textbox, then write your message as usual. You can remove yourself from a group conversation, if you no longer wish to participate in it.

It’s possible to disable private messages completely, or mute specific members (which prevents them from sending you messages). Check your preferences for these options.


Still got questions about the forum? Please leave a comment in this Help topic! :slight_smile:

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