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#1 Simon


    IFSQN...it's My Life

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 12:48 PM

With the complexity of a system as vast as this forum software, it's easy to get lost in all of it's features and possibilities.

At the core of a forum, the most important functionality of the site should be posting topics and replies. Additionally, you'll want to manage those topics and replies. This can mean a lot of things, but many times you want to see if someone has replied to a topic of interest, or read all of the new topics posted since your last visit. Here are some tips to help you do so.

1. Checking new posts - to read all of the new posts since your last visit just click the "View New Posts" link at the top of the page. This link shows all posts since your last visit time.

2. Checking topics with new replies - sometimes you may wish to manually go through certain forums and check out topics that have had new replies since your last visit. The forum and topic icons can help you quickly do so. When viewing a forum, if the forum has new topics, or topics with new replies, that you have not already read, the forum icon is changed.

Similarly, once you go into a forum, topics that have new posts (or are new themselves) - meaning you haven't read the topic, not that it was posted since your last visit - will be changed. Additionally, if the topic has more than 10 replies it will display as a "hot" topic, and if you have posted in the topic a marker is placed on top of the icon.

You can see a list of all of the the topic icons and their meanings at the bottom of any forum page to help you learn what all of the different icons mean. These icons are the quickest and easiest way to monitor topics visually.

3. Subscriptions - Subscriptions can help you track topics and forums in one easy to manage location - your user control panel. Additionally, with subscriptions, you can elect to be notified when new topics or replies are made.

When you view a topic, you can click on the "Topic Options" button at the top of the topic, and click "Subscribe to this topic". From there, you will be brought to the user control panel and you can elect your notification type:

o None - you will be able to monitor the topic from your user control panel, but won't receive any notifications

o Immediate - regardless of your board activity, you will be sent an email immediately after a new post is made to a topic

o Delayed - if you have not been active on the board for 2 hours, you will receive an email notification of the new post

o Daily Digest - once every 24 hours a digest of all replies made to any topics you are subscibed to will be emailed to you

o Weekly Digest - once every week a digest of all replies made to any topics you are subscribed to will be emailed to you

Regardless of what choice you make however, the topics will be accessible in your user control panel by clicking My Controls at the top of the page, and then clicking "View Topics".

Similarly, you can subscribe to an entire forum by clicking the Forum Options button at the top of a forum page, and clicking "Subscibe to Forum". You can make the same elections as you can for topics, with the only difference being you will be tracking new topics made within a forum, rather than new replies made against a topic. You can track forums you are subsribed to in your My Controls by clicking "View Forums".

This is a very powerful, however often overlooked capability of our forums to help you manage your topics.

Additionally, when posting a new topic, you have the option to automatically subscribe to the topic by checking the box labeled "Enable email notification of replies?". This has the same effect as subscribing to the topic.

4. Forum Sort Options - This is an often overlooked feature and comes in handly especially when the forum is very very active. When you are in a forum at the bottom of the page there are a few sorting options.

o Order By - You can choose what order you would like to sort the forum by. If you want to reply to topics that have no posts, you can choose to sort by Replies (and set the next menu to "ASC A-Z"). Or you can choose to only participate in topics that have several replies. You can sort by Topic Title to find topics you know the title for easier, or choose to sort by last poster to look for troublesome users easier.

o Z-A / A-Z - This option controls the ordering of the "order by" menu. If you sort Z-A, then the highest values show first (i.e. z, y, x, etc. or 9, 8, 7). This will show newest posts first, for example, if sorting by "last post". Or it will show topics with the most replies if sorting by "replies". A-Z, alternatively, sorts lowest to highest.

o Pruning Options - This options can help you prune down topics from the display. For example, if you want to show all topics that have no replies, but *only* want to show those topics made within the last 30 days, you can set this to "From: 30 days", set order by to "replies", and set the sort order menu to "A-Z".

o Topic Filter - This is one of the more powerful menus, and I say that for two reasons (two of it's options) - "Topics: I Replied" and "Topics: I started". You can choose to filter only open (or closed) topics, or you can look for Polls, or hot topics only.

The "I replied" and "I started" options however narrow down the results based on your membership - that is, if you choose "I replied" only topics that you have replied in will show up, and if you choose "I started" only topics you started will show up.

5. Recently Read Topics - On the homepage of your user control panel, the 5 most recently read topics are listed, including indicators of whether or not there have been new replies (and the most recent poster information). While this may not be as powerful as some of the other features because you have less control over the data, it can still give you a quick glimpse into some of the recent topics you read, to let you know if there have been any new replies since you last read it.

6. Search - Naturally, the search is a powerful feature, not only can you include keywords (optionally), you can select which forums to search, you can filter topics and posts by member name, you can filter date ranges with the "Search posts from" drop down, you can control the ordering of the results, and you can choose to display the results as posts, or links to the topics the results come from. The search feature is obviously meant to search topics and posts, not track them per-say, but with the right settings you can do more than look for a couple keywords with the search feature. Just be aware, we have set flood control limits on the search feature (defaulting to 20 seconds) so you may have to wait in-between searches to perform a new search.

Hopefully this gives you some more tools in your management of topics and posts on our forums.

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