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User guide

1. Introduction

1.1. What is a discussion board?

1.2. What is Active Data Online Discussion Board?

2. Navigation

2.1. How do I find my way around?

3. User registration and sign-in

3.1. How do I register and sign in?

3.2. How do I sign in automatically?

3.3. If I have forgotten my password, how can I sign in?

3.4. Why does the system ask me to wait a while before trying to sign in again?

3.5. I can't seem to sign in. My account has been blocked or no longer exists. What can I do?

4. User settings

4.1. How can I change my password?

4.2. Can I enter an invalid email address?

4.3. How can I change my email address?

4.4. Can I prevent my email address from being displayed online?

4.5. Can I switch messages off? Can I configure the system to only allow messages from a certain list of users?

4.6. Can I opt in and out of the administrative mailing list?

4.7. Can I be notified by email when someone replies to a post I've made?

4.8. Which timezone is the system using? Can I view all dates and times in my timezone?

4.9. Can I post material in a font and colour different from the default font and colour?

4.10. Can I configure the way topics are displayed?

5. User profile

5.1. What is a user profile?

5.2. How do I find a particular user's profile?

5.3. Can I use a signature in my posts?

5.4. Can I upload an avatar?

5.5. Can I upload pictures? Can I change the pictures I've uploaded?

5.6. What is a guestbook? Can I post an entry in anyone's guestbook? Can I remove posts from my guestbook?

5.7. What are friend links? How do I create a friend link? How do I vet friend link requests?

5.8. What are users with similar profiles?

6. Postings

6.1. What is a topic?

6.2. What is a discussion?

6.3. What is a blog?

6.4. What is a statement?

6.5. What is a question?

6.6. What is a poll?

6.7. What is an event?

6.8. What is a picture?

6.9. What is a file?

6.10. What is a template (other topic)?

6.11. What is a reply?

6.12. What is a linked reply?

6.13. How do I post something?

6.14. What is the word count?

6.15. Can I edit a post?

6.16. Can I delete a post?

6.17. What does topic suspended mean?

6.18. I can't find my post. Where is it?

6.19. Why is it that some of the text in my post is masked by asterisks?

6.20. Why won't my post appear immediately?

6.21. What is anti-flooding? Why are some of my posts blocked?

6.22. Why can't I sometimes post a topic header with words in capital letters?

6.23. Why can't I access some forums?

6.24. Why can't I post new topics in some forums?

6.25. Why is it that words and phrases in my posts are sometimes linked to advertisements?

6.26. I find the font size too small. Can I make it bigger?

6.27. What is a rating? Why is it useful to rate a topic? How do I rate a topic?

6.28. I have found a post that appears to breach the terms of use. How do I report it?

6.29. I have found a post that appears to spam. How do I report it?

6.30. I have found a post that appears to be in the wrong forum. How do I report it?

6.31. I have found a post that I know someone might be interested in. How do I recommend it to that person?

6.32. What are bookmarks?

6.33. How do I preview a post that is on a list of posts without entering it?

6.34. How do I search for posts?

6.35. How do I keep track of topics that I have read?

6.36. How do I find posts that are new?

6.37. How can I subscribe to an RSS feed of new posts?

6.38. What are recommendations? How are recommendations determined? How can I receive more?

7. Moderating

7.1. I've been made a moderator of a forum. What do I have to do?

8. Messages

8.1. What are messages?

8.2. How do I send a message?

8.3. Why are some entries in bold?

8.4. What does replied mean?

8.5. Is there a limit to my messages inbox? Do I have to remove old messages?

9. Credits, subscriptions and advertising

9.1. What are credits?

9.2. What is PayPal?

9.3. What is a paid topic?

9.4. What is a forum subscription? Can I stop an existing subscription?

9.5. What is an advertisement? Can I buy an advertisement? Can I stop an existing advertisement?

1. Introduction


1.1. What is a discussion board?

A discussion board is a Web-based software application that enables people to discuss, share ideas, analyse issues, collaborate, ask and answer questions, tally opinion, announce events, share pictures and files, and discuss online videos.

Users can post text, pictures and files to the board, and reply. Users can also post structured data and reference external multimedia content through templated topics.

Posts are organised in groups, forums, topics and threads.

Groups and forums are set up by administrators. A forum is essentially an area of the board based on one subject. A group is a collection of similar forums. Each forum can be configured differently. A forum can be configured to be read only. A forum can be configured to allow anonymous posts as well as posts from users who are signed-in. A forum can be configured to require users to sign in before they can access it. A forum can be configured to only allow new topics from a specific list of users. A forum can be configured to only allow a specific list of users to access it. A forum can be configured to require users to pay a subscription fee to access it. A forum can be configured to require users to pay a fee to post. A forum can be configured to run contextual advertisements. A forum can be configured to be moderated, or in other words, configured to allow a group of users called moderators to review and where necessary censor or delete posts. A forum can be configured to be screened, or in other words, configured to require all new posts to be checked. A forum can be configured to only allow certain types of posts. A forum can be configured to be displayed as a list of topics; or if the forum only contains blogs, as a blog; or if the forum only contains events, as a calendar; or if the forum only contains pictures, as a picture gallery; or if the forum only contains files, as a file share.

Topics and replies are posts made by users. A topic is a single discussion, blog, statement, question, poll, event, picture or file. A topic can have one or more threads. A thread is a sequence of replies. A reply is any post within a topic other than the first post in the topic. A reply can be a reply to the topic starter or a reply to a reply.


1.2. What is Active Data Online Discussion Board?

Active Data Online Discussion Board is an advanced, n-tier, database-driven discussion board from Active Data Online Pty Ltd. Discussion Board can manage large online communities, discussion forums, blogs, social networks, collaborative workspaces, knowledge-bases, file shares, customer support centers, workgroup calendars, picture galleries, classifieds, and more. The system runs on the Microsoft .net 2.0 platform and supports Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, Oracle 10g, MySQL, and PostgreSQL relational databases.


2. Navigation


2.1. How do I find my way around?

There are five tabs (or menu options) towards the top of the screen: forums, daily posts, users, my board and help. Each tab will lead you into a different part of the board.

The forums section is the main area. Here, you can find groups, forums and topics, and post new topics and replies.

The daily posts section is a blog-like view of what's new on the entire board. It shows every publicly viewable post, organised chronologically. Topics and replies of restricted access forums and subscriptions-based forums are not displayed. There is a calender on the top right of the screen. The dates that have a gray background have posts. The date that has a yellow background is the date currently selected. Clicking on a date will bring up the posts made at the date. Each post is presented as an excerpt and with a link to a more detailed view. Beneath the calendar is a list of the top 10 latest posts. The list includes posts from all forums.

The users section presents information on the users of the board. There is a display of random user images (if there are at least five users in the system with profile images), a search engine of users by username or ID, and links to several lists of users, namely: most hours online, most posts, most friend links, newest, most recent online. Clicking on a user name will bring up the user's profile page.

The my board section is essentially your control center as a user. From here, you can configure and personalise the system; send and receive messages (formerly known as PMs) to individual users; review all of your posts; access your bookmarks; view recommendations made by the system; manage your credits, subscriptions, and ad campaigns, if available; update your user profile; invite others to join; manage your friend links; manage the guestbook entries you have received; if you have been assigned moderator rights, access moderator tools; and if you have administrator rights, access administrator tools.

The help section is the user guide. You can read it from start to end, jump to individual sections or sub-sections, or use the search engine at the top of the screen to find specific words or phrases.

Immediately underneath the five tabs is a description of your current location within the system. If you are in a forum, you will see the forum's group name followed by the forum's title. If you are in a topic within a forum, you will see the forum's group name, then the forum's title, and then the topic's title. If you are in the daily posts section, you will see the date (or date range) you are viewing. If you are in the users section you should be able to see precisely where within the users section you are in. And so on.


3. User registration and sign-in


3.1. How do I register and sign in?

When you first open up the application, if the system automatically authenticates you, then the system has been configured to authenticate users via Windows. In this case, both registering and signing in are automatic.

If you can't see a sign in link and a registration link at the top right of the screen and you are not yet registered and signed in, then the system has been configured to authenticate users via an external application. Here, you must register and authenticate over there before coming to the board.

If you can see a sign in link and a registration link, then the system has been configured to use forms authentication. In this case, you must register and sign in via the discussion board. To register, click on the register link, read the terms of use, check I agree, enter a username that you would like to use of between 1 and 25 characters, enter a password of up to 20 characters, enter your email address and press register. As part of the registration process, the system sends to you a confirmation email asking you to click on a link in the email. This serves to validate the email address you have provided and to verify that the email address is in fact yours. When you click on the link in the email, an account will be created for you. If the system has been set up to require users to be vetted, an administrator must approve your account before you can start to use it. If vetting is not switched on, you can start to use your account immediately. Once you have an account, to sign in, go to the sign in area, enter your username and password and press sign in.


3.2. How do I sign in automatically?

If the system is using Windows authentication, you will sign in automatically everytime you start the application.

If the system is using forms authentication, you can automate the sign in process by ticking the remember checkbox before pressing the sign-in button. Thereafter, you will be authenticated automatically when you start the application. Automatic sign in uses cookies. Your browser must be able to accept and store cookies.


3.3. If I have forgotten my password, how can I sign in?

If the system is using forms authentication and you have forgotten your password, you can request a new password. The new password will be generated randomly and it will be sent to you via your registered email address. If you do not use the new password the next time you try to sign in, the new password will be discarded and the old one restored. This prevents other users from triggering a new password for your account without your knowledge or approval.


3.4. Why does the system ask me to wait a while before trying to sign in again?

If the system is using forms authentication and you mistype your password and fail to sign in, and this happens several times, then as a security measure the system will prevent you from trying further for fifteen minutes. This mechanism protects user accounts from brute force attacks.


3.5. I can't seem to sign in. My account has been blocked or no longer exists. What can I do?

If blocked, your account may have been suspended by administrators for breaching the terms of use. You won't be able to use your account. You can try contacting the administrators to ask them if the suspension can be lifted.

If missing, your account may have been deleted by administrators.


4. User settings


4.1. How can I change my password?

Sign in, go to settings, change your password and press save.


4.2. Can I enter an invalid email address?

You shouldn't. As part of the registration process, you are required to enter a valid email address. If you subsequently change your email address via user settings, or the email address you have specified becomes unreachable, and the administrator marks the email address as unreachable, then you will not be able to make use of any of the emailing features of the system. In other words, you won't be able to receive email notifications and emails from administrators, even if you have switched these options on. This means the system won't have to try to send emails to invalid addresses and have the emails bounce. The idea is that a user should either want to receive email notifications or not. If a user wants to, then it is the user's responsibility to enter and maintain a valid email address.


4.3. How can I change my email address?

Sign in, go to settings, change your email address and press save. The system will send a confirmation email to you via the new email address. Click on the link in it and the system will change your existing email address to the new one. If the system is authenticating users externally, then you won't be able to change your email address.


4.4. Can I prevent my email address from being displayed online?

Yes. The option is in settings.


4.5. Can I switch messages off? Can I configure the system to only allow messages from a certain list of users?

Yes. The option is in settings. You can choose to accept messages from everyone, accept messages only from users on your friends list, or block all messages except for messages from administrators. If you would like to receive email notifications of new messages, you can. The option to do so is underneath.


4.6. Can I opt in and out of the administrative mailing list?

Yes. The option is in settings. To receive emails, you must ensure that your email address is reachable.


4.7. Can I be notified by email when someone replies to a post I've made?

Yes. The option is in settings. To receive emails, you must ensure that your email address is reachable.


4.8. Which timezone is the system using? Can I view all dates and times in my timezone?

The default timezone of the board is set by the administrators. It is either UTC (ie, GMT) or the timezone of the server computer. Individual users can configure the system to display dates and times in their own timezones, which may be plus or minus several hours UTC. Aside from timezone, you can also configure dates and times to read in a particular format. Times, for instance, can be rendered with AMs and PMs or in a 24 hour form.


4.9. Can I post material in a font and colour different from the default font and colour?

Yes. If fonts are permitted by the administrators, a font type drop-down list and a colour drop-down list will be visible underneath the text editors of the system. Selecting a font type and colour will cause your post to be rendered in the font and colour. If you would like use a particular font and colour everytime, you can set the default font and colour through user settings. The lists of fonts and colours are set up by administrators.


4.10. Can I configure the way topics are displayed?

Yes. The default topic filter, sort type, view and page size can all be set in user settings. When you are in a forum or a topic, you can also filter and sort the lists using the tools there. The most number of topics that can be displayed at once is 50. The most number of replies that can be displayed at once is 50.


5. User profile


5.1. What is a user profile?

A user profile is a summary of a user.

A profile contains statistics on the user such as the start date, the last sign in date, the last activity date, the total hours spent online, the number of posts, the number of messages, the number of guestbook entries, and the number of friend links.

A profile may or may not contain pictures (presented in an ajaxed slide show), biographical details, a Website link, and information on likes and dislikes, interests, occupation, location, and so forth.

Except for "about me", all profile fields are set up by administrators rather than built into the system. This means every Discussion Board can have a unique set of user profile fields. Field labels, types and even lists of possible answers are all configurable. Administrators can also allow or disallow pictures and set the number of pictures that each user can upload and display in his or her profile. Users do not have to fill in any of the fields. If an administrator edits or removes a profile field, all entries for the field in question will be discarded.

The about-me field is a general text area where users can describe themselves, their backgrounds, what's new, or simply rant meaninglessly.

A profile also contains a guestbook, where passers-by and friends can say hello and post other publicly viewable comments.

A profile also contains friend links and links to users with similar profiles.

A profile also contains information on how many times it has been viewed and when it was last updated.

As a rule, only users who are signed-in can view user profiles.


5.2. How do I find a particular user's profile?

In the users area, you can search for a user's profile page by username or user ID. If you cannot recall a user's exact name, you can enter the starting few letters and carry out a search.

The users area also contains lists of the top 50
1. Newest
2. Most recent online
3. Most hours online
4. Most posts
5. Most friend links
6. Most viewed profiles
7. Most recent profile update

Every time a user posts something in the forums area, the user's name will appear with a link to his or her profile page.

Moreover, discussion board's user profile pages are designed to facilitate profile surfing and social networking.


5.3. Can I use a signature in my posts?

No. The system does not support signatures, because signatures tend to be used for spam, and signatures add clutter and distract users from the content of posts. If you would like to display your homepage or your favourite quote, that is to say, material that you might normally put in a signature, you can include these in your profile, if there is space.


5.4. Can I upload an avatar?

No. The system does not support avatars, because avatars add clutter and distracts users from the content of posts. Instead of avatars, Discussion Board has profile pictures. If pictures are permitted by administrators, you can post your picture or logo in your profile page.


5.5. Can I upload pictures? Can I change the pictures I've uploaded?

Yes. You can upload a main profile picture and, if permitted by administrators, several additional profile pictures -- the number, file type and file size are set by administrators. You can edit your pictures by removing existing pictures and adding new ones. A profile picture can be of any dimension except less than 200 pixels by 200 pixels. Where necessary, pictures are resized, cropped and thumbnailed.


5.6. What is a guestbook? Can I post an entry in anyone's guestbook? Can I remove posts from my guestbook?

A guestbook is an area within a user profile where visitors can leave publicly viewable remarks. Every user can make one entry in a guestbook, and revise the entry. There's no limit to the number of entries that a guestbook can have. The entries of a guestbook can be removed by the owner of the guestbook.


5.7. What are friend links? How do I create a friend link? How do I vet friend link requests?

Friend links are two-way links between two users. A user who has a friend link with another user will have his or her profile page connected to the other user.

Friend links facilitate social networking and profile surfing. Users can discover friends of friends, ad infinitum, and thus meet new people by way of other people.

A friend link can be established in two ways. The first is from within a user's profile page. If you would like to establish a friend link with an existing user, open the user's profile page and click on create friend link. This sends a request for a friend link to the said user, who must then approve the link before it is established in the system. The second way is to invite an unregistered user to become a registered user via the invite-a-new-user tool. If the user registers as a result of your invitation, a preliminary friend link is created and you must then approve the link before it is established.

A friend link can be removed by either side of the link.

A user's friend links are displayed in his or her user profile. The five image friend links on a user's profile page are chosen randomly each time. To see all of the friend links of the current user, click on the all-friend-links link.

Every time a friend is online in the forums area, the person's username will appear in bold in the who's here section. Other usernames appear not in bold.


5.8. What are users with similar profiles?

In addition to friend links, the system will identify users with the same responses to enum-based profile fields and link the profiles of the users. This means it is possible to browse user profiles and discover users with similar interests, likes and dislikes, characteristics, and so on. The similar profiles feature is only available if the administrators of the board have set up one or more enum profile fields. An enum profile field is a field where users must choose an answer from a list of possible answers.

There are only five spots on each user profile page for similar profile links. The system chooses a random subset of the total each time the page renders.


6. Postings


6.1. What is a topic?

A topic is a single discussion, as it were, within a forum of the discussion board. A topic can be a discussion, a blog, a statement, a question, a poll, an event, a picture or a file. A topic can have one or more threads. A thread is a single line of discussion, or in other words, a sequence of replies. A topic can be displayed in a linear view or a threaded view. A linear view displays posts in chronologically ascending or descending order. A threaded view displays posts according to the threads of the topic.

As per convention, the default order of a list of topics is a chronologically descending order with the most recent post put first. The system includes sorting and filtering options, so it is possible to sort and filter the list, and where the list is long traverse the sections (or pages) of the list to discover less active or older topics.


6.2. What is a discussion?

A discussion is essentially a conversation involving several users or even everyone, as opposed to message or PM from one user to another. Users can reply to the discussion starter or to replies within the discussion.


6.3. What is a blog?

A blog is a diary-like entry with or without a picture. Unlike discussions, users cannot reply to replies. Instead users can only post comments against the blog entry. A blog picture can be of any dimension except less than 100 pixels by 100 pixels.

A forum can be set up to appear as a blog-like application if all topics in the forum are blogs.


6.4. What is a statement?

A statement is similar to a blog, except comments or replies cannot be posted. Statements can have a picture. A statement picture can be of any dimension except less than 100 pixels by 100 pixels.


6.5. What is a question?

A question is a question. Each user can only post one answer to a question. A user cannot respond to an existing answer, or in other words, a user cannot reply to a reply. If a question is marked as answered by the user who asked the question, or by a moderator, the topic becomes read only and new answers cannot be posted. Once a question receives an answer, the user who asked the question cannot edit the question.


6.6. What is a poll?

A poll is a close-ended survey that tallies opinion. Each user can only vote once in a poll. The results of a poll are counted in real time and displayed in a bar chart. A poll can form the basis of a threaded discussion.


6.7. What is an event?

An event is essentially a calendar entry, which can form the basis of a threaded discussion. Events are identified by date and time and can be categorised.

A forum can be set up to appear as a calendar if all topics in the forum are events. If a forum is a calendar, you can see all events in a monthly view and in a daily planner. The daily planner will list all events for the selected day in chronological order, and display the events in a timeline, highlighting clashes.


6.8. What is a picture?

A picture is a digital photograph, painting, drawing, graphic or image of any dimension greater than 200 pixels by 200 pixels. A picture can form the basis of a threaded discussion. The type of files that are acceptable and the maximum file size in kilobytes are both set by administrators. To fit in the system, pictures are automatically resized, cropped and thumbnailed.

A forum can be set up to appear as a picture gallery if all topics in the forum are pictures.


6.9. What is a file?

A file is a binary or text computer file. A file can form the basis of a threaded discussion. A file can be a program, a document, or a data file. The type of files that are acceptable and the maximum file size in kilobytes are both set by administrators. Files are not scanned by the system for viruses or the like. Users should be careful when opening files from unknown sources.

A forum can be set up to appear as a file share if all topics in the forum are files.


6.10. What is a template (other topic)?

A template is a generic topic, created by an administrator, that can take any shape or form and present anything. It is HTML code that renders in a web browser. This means a templated topic can be anything that includes HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The validity of the code is completely the responsibility of the administrator who created it.

When a user posts a topic that references a template, the user is simply filling out parameters for the template.

A forum can be configured to have none, one or more topic templates.

Templates can be used to present and discuss anything from online videos (in Flash, Windows media player and even Silverlight) to chess positions (presented in a javascript powered chess board) to structured data -- essentially, anything that can render in a web browser.


6.11. What is a reply?

A reply is a post within a topic. A reply can be a reply to the topic starter or a reply to a reply. In blog topics, a reply is known as a comment. In question topics, a reply is known as an answer.

When replying, you can bring up the entire topic and review it by clicking on the link near "reply to".

Whilst you are typing in a reply, the system will periodically check for new posts in the current topic. If there is something new, the word NEW will appear next to the topic link without you having to press the browser's refresh button.


6.12. What is a linked reply?

A linked reply is a reply to a topic that links to another topic.

Discussion Board's linked reply system essentially allows users to reply to a topic and attach a file, a picture, an event, a poll or a question. The exception is, an answer to a question cannot be a linked reply.

A topic can have one or more outward links, but only one inward link.

By linking topics this way, a discussion involving several pictures, for instance, each replying to another, can be presented in a picture gallery, where each picture is a standalone topic that is thumbnailed. Similarly, a discussion involving several events, each event replying to another, can be presented in a calendar or daily planner. And so on.


6.13. How do I post something?

To post a new topic in a forum, and click on the type of topic that you would like to post to open the post editor: Discussion, Blog, Statement, Question, Poll, Event, Picture or File. Some forums are restricted to only one or a few of the topic types. Others allow all topic types. Once you've opened the editor, enter the topic header and then the topic itself, which may be text, or a file, or a combination of the two. If the system has been set up to allow fonts and you are entering text, you can choose a font and colour. If you do, the text in the main textbox changes to the selected font and colour, so that What You See Is What You Get. You can press clear to clear the fields if you have made a mistake and you would like to start over. If the system's spell checker has been switched on, you can press spell check to get the system to identify possible mispellings. Alternatively, if you are using FireFox 2.0+, you can use its built-in spell checker. When you are ready to post, press the post button once. If the current forum has been set up to restrict the amount of text that can be entered and you have exceeded the limit, a message will appear informing you that you have exceeded the limit and must re-write. If you are posting a file or a picture and you are trying to post a file type that is not allowed by the administrators, or the file exceeds the maximum file size set up by the administrators, a message will appear informing you that you have to try again.

To reply to a topic, click on the reply link at the top of the topic. To reply to another reply, click on the reply link underneath the post. Once again, if fonts are allowed, you can post the reply in a particular font or colour, or both. And, similarly to topics, if the forum has been set up to restrict the number of characters, and you exceed the limit, a message will appear reading that you must reduce the length of the reply.

When writing a topic or a reply, the system will keep your session alive for you for up to one hour. After that time, your session will expire.


6.14. What is the word count?

If the administrators have switched on word count, the system will count and display the number of words of every post that is text.

The word count enables users to see at a glance the length of a post before reading it.

A word in the system is defined as a series of characters without a space.


6.15. Can I edit a post?

Yes if it is your post. Go to the post and click on the edit link underneath, edit the post and then press post. If the forum or the topic has since been made read only, it will not be possible to edit the post. If the forum has been set up to block changes after a certain number of days, and the days have passed, it will not be possible to edit the post. Only the user who made the original post can edit a post. Moderators and administrators can only ever censor or delete posts. They can never edit a post.


6.16. Can I delete a post?

Yes if it is your post or if you are a moderator. Go to the post and click on the delete link underneath. If the forum or the topic has since been made read only, it will not be possible to delete a post. If the forum has been set up to block changes after a certain number of days, and the days have passed, it will not be possible to delete the post.


6.17. What does topic suspended mean?

Administrators can suspend a topic, which will make it inaccessible until the suspension is removed.


6.18. I can't find my post. Where is it?

Moderators and administrators can move topics from one forum to another to ensure that topics are not misplaced. To find your post, click on my board and then posts. This displays all of the posts you have made. Alternatively, you can bookmark individual topics including your own so that you can keep track of specific topics. Administrators can also physically delete, prune and split topics. Pruning a topic means removing an entire thread (or branch) within a topic. Splitting a topic means breaking a topic into two separate topics.


6.19. Why is it that some of the text in my post is masked by asterisks?

Discussion Board features a built-in automatic text censorship system. Words or phrases that are deemed to be offensive or unacceptable by the administrators can be entered into the censored text list. The system masks censored words and phrases with asterisks.

Moreover, topics and replies can be moderated. The job of a moderator is to censor or delete posts that are spam or in breach the terms of use.


6.20. Why won't my post appear immediately?

A forum can be set up to screen posts. Screened forums require all topics and replies to be reviewed and approved by a moderator before they appear online. The screening process may take anything from a few seconds to a few days, depending on how busy the moderators are. If a moderator decides not to approve a post, the post will be deleted from the system.

An administrator can also require all posts from a particular user to be screened, irrespective of whether the forum in question is screened.


6.21. What is anti-flooding? Why are some of my posts blocked?

"Flooding" a discussion board means making numerous, often similar posts over a short period of time. It is often done by spammers and users who want to mess up a discussion board.

The system has built-in anti-flooding measures. If anti-flooding is switched on by the administrators, the system will analyse every new text-based topic, reply and private message to determine if it has substantially duplicate content, if it is by the same user, and if it is within a short period of time. If the system decides that a post is an attempt to flood, it will block the post.


6.22. Why can't I sometimes post a topic header with words in capital letters?

A lot of people find text in full caps difficult to read quickly.

For this reason, administrators can set up a forum to block topic headers that contain one or more words completely in capital letters.


6.23. Why can't I access some forums?

Access to some forums can be restricted.

Restricted access forums are forums where only users who have been approved by administrators can access the forum to read and post material. Every other user will not be able to access the forum.

A forum can be set up to require a subscription. Subscriptions-based forums are forums where only users who have bought a subscription can access the forum to read or post material. Every other user will not be able to access the forum. Subscriptions can expire. Once a subscription expires it must be renewed, or else the subscriber won't be able to access the forum anymore.


6.24. Why can't I post new topics in some forums?

A forums can be set up to restrict new topics to a list of pre-approved users. These forums have the attribute "closed topics".


6.25. Why is it that words and phrases in my posts are sometimes linked to advertisements?

Discussion Board includes a built-in contextual advertising system. Individual forums can be set up by administrators to allow ads. Users who buy ads for a word or a phrase within a forum will have their ads embedded in a post when the word or phrase appears in the post. Normally, a post only contains one ad.

Ads are rendered as hyperlinked words or phrases.

When a user's mouse cursor is placed over the hyperlink, the ad text will appear. Clicking on an ad will lead the user to the ad's website.

Discussion Board's ad system will monitor click-throughs and check for duplicates.


6.26. I find the font size too small. Can I make it bigger?

Yes. When you are reading a topic, there are two links towards the top of the page: larger and smaller. Clicking on larger will increase the size of the font. Clicking on smaller will decrease the size of the font. You can also set a default font-size through user settings.


6.27. What is a rating? Why is it useful to rate a topic? How do I rate a topic?

A forum can be set up to accept ratings.

If a forum accepts ratings, every topic in the forum can be rated by users. Each user can only rate a topic once. A rating is a number between 1 and 5, where 1 is the lowest rating and 5 is the highest. Topic ratings are useful for highlighting good and bad topics. Users can sort topics by ratings. Topic ratings are also used by the system to make recommendations to you as a user. You rate a topic simply by clicking on a star -- 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 -- near the word rate when you are in the topic. Once you have rated a topic, the word rate disappears and the rating area displays the average ratings thus far in red stars.


6.28. I have found a post that appears to breach the terms of use. How do I report it?

All posts that have not been reported and reviewed have a hyperlink underneath it called Breach. Click on Breach if you would like to report the post to moderators as a breach of the terms of use. Once reported, moderators will be able to notice the post easily, as well as see the reason for the report and the user who reported it. A moderator can either approve, censor, move or delete the post.


6.29. I have found a post that appears to spam. How do I report it?

All posts that have not been reported and reviewed have a hyperlink underneath it called Spam. Click on Spam if you would like to report the post to moderators as spam. Once reported, moderators will be able to notice the post easily, as well as see the reason for the report and the user who reported it. A moderator can either approve, censor, move or delete the post.

If a post contains a word that administrators have flagged as spam, the system will automatically put the post into the moderating area and mark it as potential spam as soon as the post is made.


6.30. I have found a post that appears to be in the wrong forum. How do I report it?

All posts that have not been reported and reviewed have a hyperlink underneath it called Misplaced. Click on Misplaced if you would like to report the post to moderators as spam. Once reported, moderators will be able to notice the post easily, as well as see the reason for the report and the user who reported it. A moderator can either approve, censor, move or delete the post.


6.31. I have found a post that I know someone might be interested in. How do I recommend it to that person?

Towards the bottom of the topic page is a link called email this topic. Click on it and enter the email address of the person to whom you would like to recommend the topic and press send.

You can also invite someone to join the discussion board via the system's invitation screen, which is accessible from the my board section.


6.32. What are bookmarks?

Bookmarks are references to topics that you would like to access quickly and conveniently. Bookmarks are useful for keeping track of topics, particularly if the discussion board is very large and there is a lot of activity. Bookmarks are also used by the system to make recommendations to you as a user.

A bookmark can be added and removed at any time. Each user can have up to 50 topic bookmarks. If you have reached the limit, you must remove some of your existing bookmarks before you can add new ones.


6.33. How do I preview a post that is on a list of posts without entering it?

You can preview a post on the front page or within a forum without actually opening up the post by placing your mouse cursor over the post's link. Doing so will display an excerpt of the post.


6.34. How do I search for posts?

Except for blogs, calendars, picture galleries, and file shares, there is a search box at the top of every forum. Enter one or more search terms and press search. The system will return topics in the current forum that contain the search terms. Searches are carried out in real time and directly against the database.

The administrators can configure the search engine to only search in posts that have been made within one year or to search in all posts. The one year option is useful for boards that have millions of posts and where searches would otherwise take a long time.

Certain types of topics such as templated topics cannot be searched.


6.35. How do I keep track of topics that I have read?

If you are signed-in, the system will mark topics that you have read automatically as you read the topics. You can also mark an entire forum or the entire board as read. As new topics and replies appear, the posts will be marked as unread posts until you read them or mark them as read.


6.36. How do I find posts that are new?

Aside from the marked read feature, you can find new posts in the daily posts section. Daily posts is essentially a blog of what's new on the board. Note that only publicly viewable posts are displayed, but all posts are highlighted in the calendar.

Immediately beneath the calendar is a list of the top 10 latest posts, which includes all forums, publicly viewable and not.


6.37. How can I subscribe to an RSS feed of new posts?

Individual forums can be configured to provide an RSS 2.0 feed of posts made within a certain number of days. The number of days is set by the administrators and applies across the system.

When you are in a forum that has RSS switched on, towards the top of the screen, you should be able to see an orange RSS box. Clicking on it opens up the RSS link for the forum, which you can subscribe to using your favourite RSS 2.0 compliant reader.

RSS is a way by which a user can be notified of new posts without having to visit the site.


6.38. What are recommendations? How are recommendations determined? How can I receive more?

Discussion Board includes several AI recommender agents, akin to amazon.com's.

As you read or view topics, the system will try to find topics with similar content and recommend it to you towards the bottom of the screen.

The system will also try to find topics that might interest you based on the bookmarks that you have. If you have bookmarked a topic, the system assumes you have some interest in it. If another user has bookmarked the same topic, then possibly, your interests and the interests of the other user are similar. So the system will recommend topics that are in the other user's bookmarks list and not in yours.

The system will also try to find topics that might interest you based on the topic ratings you have made. If you have rated a topic 5 stars, the system assumes you like the topic. If another user has rated the same topic 5 stars, then chances are, your likes and the likes of the other user coincide. So the system will recommend topics that the other user has rated 5 stars and that you have not rated at all.

The recommendation algorithms are a form of artificial intelligence. The system will learn from you and adapt.


7. Moderating


7.1. I've been made a moderator of a forum. What do I have to do?

Moderators are users who can censor, delete or move posts made by other users. Moderators may also be required to screen new posts. Posts that breach the terms of use, posts that are spam, or posts that have been misplaced should be censored, deleted, moved, or referred to administrators.


8. Messages


8.1. What are messages?

Messages, formerly known as private messages or PMs, are conversations between two users.

Discussion Board's messenging system is conceptually similar to emails but are handled entirely within the system. A message is a kind of post that can only be read by the sender and recipient.

Users can choose to receive an email notification when a message arrives. If a user is online and there is a new message, the user will be notified towards the top of the screen.

Messages are presented in threads much like normal posts. This way, users who send and receive numerous messages can keep track of who said what and when, and what each conversation is about.

The messenging system is also fairly similar to an instant messenging system in the sense that new messages appear automatically without you having to press the browser's refresh button.


8.2. How do I send a message?

The messages screen is accessible via the my board section. You can start new conversations from there or from a user profile page.


8.3. Why are some entries in bold?

Messages with the subject text in bold are conversations with one or more new, unread messages. Those that you have read are not in bold.

Messages with the user name in bold are conversations that the other side has not read. Those that have been read are not in bold. This feature is useful for knowing if the person you have sent a message to has read it.


8.4. What does replied mean?

Messages marked with Y in the replied column are conversations that yours is the last message. Those marked with N are conversations that the other side's is the last message.


8.5. Is there a limit to my messages inbox? Do I have to remove old messages?

No, there is no limit. But messages that are over one month old are deleted by the system automatically. This means there is no need to constantly remove messages from your inbox.


9. Credits, subscriptions and advertising


9.1. What are credits?

Credits is Discussion Board's currency. Credits are used to buy paid topics, forum subscriptions, and contextual ads.

One credit is equivalent to one cent USD.

Users buy credits via the system using PayPal.


9.2. What is PayPal?

PayPal is an Internet payments provider, owned by eBay.

Further information on PayPal, including membership, security and payment options, is available at their website, www.paypal.com.


9.3. What is a paid topic?

A paid topic is a topic that requires one or more credits for it to be posted.

A forum can be set up to to require payment for topics. The price in credits of a topic is decided by administrators.

The system of paid topics can be used to host paid classifieds. A statements only forum with paid topics is essentially a classifieds.


9.4. What is a forum subscription? Can I stop an existing subscription?

A forum subscription is a pass to access a subscriptions only forum.

A forum can be set to require subscriptions. The price of a day's subscription is decided by administrators.

If there are forums that require subscriptions, users can buy one or more subscriptions and cancel their existing subscriptions. The subscription fee is collected as users access the forums on a day by day basis. So if a user has a subscription but does not have enough credits, the user will be blocked from the forum.


9.5. What is an advertisement? Can I buy an advertisement? Can I stop an existing advertisement?

An advertisement is a hyperlinked word or phrase.

A forum can be set up to allow contextual ads. The price of a click-through is decided by administrators.

If there are forums that allow advertisements, users can buy one or more ads and cancel their existing ads. An ad requires a target forum, a phrase (a sequence of characters, which may be one or more words), ad text and a hyperlink. When a user's mouse cursor moves over the word or phrase, the ad text and hyperlink will appear. When a user clicks on an ad, the user will be directed to the ad's website.

The ad system will record impressions, click-throughs and cost incurred. Ad buyers will be able to see the number of impressions, the click-throughs and the cost so far for every ad that is active. What's more, the system will only charge for unique click-through's. If the system decides that a click-through has come about from a person who has previously clicked on the ad, the click-through won't be recorded. This protects advertisers from fake click-through's.





 
18 Jan 2018 3:23 pm UTC
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