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Thread: Getting started on The Forum SA

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    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Getting started on The Forum SA

    I'm going to tell you a bit about getting started at The Forum SA. Hopefully once I'm done you'll be a forum expert and know how to get the most out of the forum in the easiest way.

    You might find it useful to keep this open in one browser window and explore through the forum in another so that you can follow each step along the way.

    Part 1: Visiting the forum for the first time

    In this first part you'll learn about the layout of the forum and browsing through the topics as a visitor.

    Let's start right at the beginning with the homepage, www.theforumsa.co.za.



    The home page is a portal to anywhere on the forum. In the top right of the screen is the login box, when you are registered as a member you log in your user name and password (we'll get to that in part 2).

    The middle of the screen has a welcome message, followed by the marketing stuff which tells you all about what we are trying to do here at the forum and why you should become a member (I'll let you in on some other advantages of being a member later...)

    The left hand side has the navigation box which you can use to move through the forums and the various topics.

    In the navigation box you'll see a link to "Forums" - now that is where all the cool stuff happens, chats, debates, arguments and just about anything. That's where the meat of The Forum SA lies, the place where you get to have your say.

    So follow that link and you'll see a list of the various categories that are available.



    To make things more orderly there are a bunch of categories with different types of topics discussed under each. Each category is made up of a bunch of "threads" (i.e. particular discussion points), and each thread is made up of "posts" (i.e. what each person says).

    Another thing to note is the link for "Today's posts" which will give you a list of all the posts from today. When you register as a member that will change to "New posts" which will give you a list of all the posts you haven't read yet (cool, huh?).

    You can browse through all the forum categories and topics and read the things which interest you.

    Try clicking on the "Business Management, Strategy and Philosophy", and finding the thread "What works to motivate your staff?" (if you can't find it then follow the link)



    This is a "thread" made up of a bunch of "posts".

    The bar at the top tells you where you are in The Forum SA and tells you the name of the thread that you are reading.

    You can read through the various posts and see who posted them. Depending on the number of posts in a thread there can be multiple pages of posts. You can navigate through them by clicking on the page numbers.

    Now that you've read through a thread you'd probably like to have your say too (please have your say - we'd really like to know what you think!), but to do that you have to be a registered member of The Forum SA.

    So that's what Part 2 will be about: registering and posting your first reply
    Last edited by I Robot; 29-Mar-07 at 12:48 PM.
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    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Part 2: Getting registered

    Now that you've had a chance to browse around it is time to register so that you can get the most benefit out of The Forum SA.

    Some of the benefits of being a member are,
    • Post messages (which means you can ask questions and give advice)
    • Keep track of what is new (the "New posts" link will give you a list of all the new posts since you last visited)
    • Access to the members area (discuss things you don't want broadcast around the world)
    • Keep track of important threads (you can track an important thread by having an email sent to you each time it is updated)
    • Customise your user profile (add a user picture, websites, signatures and more)
    • Be part of a community that is trying to achieve the best for small businesses
    You have probably noticed the "Attention visitor" block on each page, and possibly even the "Register" link at the top left.



    Click on one of those two links to start the registration process. The first page you'll be sent to is the rules page. Read through it, check the box to confirm that you agree and then click the register button.

    The rules are pretty simple, play nicely and don't spam. There are some more guidelines for etiquette, but I'll get to those later.

    Then comes the difficult part - deciding on a user name. Feel free to use anything. Some people use their name, others use some word special to them, initials, or just about anything. NEVER use your email address as your user name, that will expose you to spam



    Fill in the form with your user name, email, password, and complete the image verification. There are some other things you can look through in the "Additional information" section, but nothing that you have to fill in. When you're done submit the form.

    You'll then get a message saying an email has been sent to you and that you'll have to confirm your registration. The email you will receive will look something like this,



    Just follow the link to confirm your registration and then you're all done! Just the last message confirming you're done,



    Now you can post replies, start new threads and setup your user profile. So in part 3 we'll be going through how to post your first reply, and create a new thread.
    Last edited by I Robot; 29-Mar-07 at 01:16 PM.
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    First, I want to thank Duncan for doing such a great job on this.

    And then just to butt in with a little tweak that I find quite helpful - collapsing box areas that I don't use that much. It's done by clicking the arrow icon on the right hand side of the header bar where this is an option.

    Below is an example of what I've done for the bottom of the thread page area.

    Last edited by I Robot; 29-Mar-07 at 01:18 PM.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Part 3: Posting a message

    Okay, so now you're registered and your fingers are just itching to start typing (they are aren't they?)

    The first thing you should probably do is go and read "A guide to forum etiquette" which will give you some things to think about before posting.

    Now that you're a member you'll have noticed that some things are looking a bit different. There are now indicators to tell you whether there are new posts in any of the categories and threads (see the bottom of the page for the legend), and there are some new options, like the "New posts" link at the top.



    Click on the "New posts" link and it will give you a list of any posts that you have not read yet. This is a great feature and means that you will always be able to keep track of what is going on. Each time you return to The Forum SA you can just hit the "New posts" link and catch up on everything. Click on the "New posts" link and you will get something like this,



    The Forum will automatically mark the posts as read when you read them. If you haven't read them all and want to clear the list then just use the "Mark forums read" link under "Quick links".

    You can search for topics by using the "Search" link from anywhere within The Forum SA.



    Type in "motivation" (without the quotation marks) and you'll get a list of threads which contain the word.

    I followed the link to What works to motivate your staff?" You'll see that at the top and bottom of each page of the thread there is a "Post reply" button.



    Click on post reply and you be taken to the "Reply to thread" screen.



    Go for it! Type in what you want to say and hit the submit button! You can also add a title (which is optional when replying to a thread) and add smilies from the list on the right. You can also preview your post before submitting it if you want to check it.

    You'll then return to the thread where you'll see your new post - exciting stuff hey?

    Now that you've made you're first post, the next thing to do is start your own thread - we'll be dealing with that in the next part.
    Last edited by I Robot; 29-Mar-07 at 01:27 PM.
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    "Gratuitous ads"??? Are you mocking the R&D projects? That's carefully chosen links based on computerised analysis of the page contents, I'll let you know

    Duncan, you're doing such a great job on this, particularly the graphics. Maybe in the appropriate slot, cover the layout tweaking stuff I put in above and then remove my post on it.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Part 4: Starting a new thread

    So you've had your first say on the forum, and now you want to talk about your topics - so lets go through how to start a new thread, and then you can do all of the basics on the forum!

    Browse to the Chat Forum (by now you should know how to get there on your own).



    (Just in case you are wondering, "R&D" stands for "Rands & Dollars" ....Dave's gonna kill me for that one)

    All you have to do is click on the "New Thread" button to start a new thread - easy hey?

    Then you'll be taken to the "Post new thread" screen which is pretty much the same as the "Reply to thread" screen, with one or two minor differences.



    The most important difference here is that you must provide a title for the thread. That title will appear in the list of threads within a category.

    The other thing that you will notice is the "Tags" block. Tags are words which provide context to the topic and content. You may have noticed them floating around at the bottom of the threads. Using the "Tags" link in the navigation bar you can browse the forum content based on how it is tagged (i.e. based on its context). It is all very Web 2.0-ey (but we'll get to that in more detail later).

    Even though tags are not required, please make use of them! It helps the search engines to drive people to the content that you have created (hey, free advertising and SEO!)

    You can preview and submit in the same way as usual. Hit submit and you've created your first thread!



    Go for it, let us know what you're thinking, tell us about your latest business conquests, or challenges. We all want to hear what the burning topics are in your business lives - so start posting!
    Last edited by I Robot; 29-Mar-07 at 01:34 PM.
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    Nice DSD,

    Good for the people that dont know how forums work. Very informative
    Wellinformed.co.za - Networking Forums SA partner site. Let's support each other for a better South Africa.

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    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    That covers everything that we need to for tonight's post party. In the not too distant future I'll cover some of the other interesting aspects of The Forum SA like,

    • Setting up your user profile
    • Adding signatures to your messages
    • Private messaging
    • Formatting your messages
    • Customising how you view The Forum SA
    • ...and anything else you would like to know about


    Please feel free to ask questions here, and we'll all try to answer them as best we can
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    Staying logged in

    If logging in every time you visit is irritating you, or you have just forgotten, then check "Remember me?" when you log in. Next time you visit you will still be logged in. That means that you can check new posts by clicking the "New Posts" link, and always have access to the members area.
    Last edited by Dave A; 26-Aug-07 at 06:56 PM.
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    Hi Duncan and/or Dave and/or anyone with more knowledge than I .........

    I visited my User CP for the first time in ages and there are some comments listed next to some thread names I have posted on.....EISH, please explain......I tried to look under FAQ but I didn't know what QUESTION to ask! It's bad, I know..... You may tell me to and I will just blame it on

    What I DO know is how to use these cool new smileys!!
    Regards

    Debbie
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    From reception to management training, assertiveness, accountability or interviewing skills, we have a wide range of training workshops available for you!
    www.stafftraining.co.za

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