You can use a forum as a public discussion area. People can start discussions which are called topics and reply to discussions. The website administrator can organize the discussions in several groups. As a result of this organization or grouping of topics, there will almost always be more than one forum available on a certain website. That's why we always talk about forums, the plural version of the word.
The administrator in this example above as combined his forums in several groups. In de forums index pages, all groups with all forums belong to that groups are listed. You enter a forum by following the link in the forum title.
Each forum has it's own index of available topics. When you click on the link to a forum in the forums index page or on the site index page, you get to see this list. If the list is longer than the number of topics that the admin has set to show at one page, you will get a page navigation area at the top of the topic list.
If you want to start a new topic, just click the button "NewTopic" in the right upper corner of the list. That will start an entryform that is discussed later in the section "Create a or reply to a topic."
When you are logged in as moderator or administrator, you can see and use the last column with navigation buttons for topic maintenance tools. See the section "Moderator tools ".
When you are using the forum, you will see some details about the post at the left side of the text and at the bottom under the the text. Which details are show depends on the amount of information that the user has provided in his user profile. Here is a list of all possible information.
When you are an admin, you can see some technical details about the post.
Table 8.1. Forum details
|User online||Green led showing that the user is online|
|User is offline||Red led showing that the user is offline|
|The user login name and some textual details about the user.|
|A country flag.||This is the country that the user has chosen in his profile.|
|Avatar||This is the avatar that the user has chosen in his profile.|
|Message icon.||A poster can choose an icon for his post.|
|A smiley||A user can decide to use smilies in his post.|
|Poster's Profile||Link to the poster's profile page.|
|Private Message||Send a Private Message to this user.|
|Send an email to this user.|
|Website||The user's website.|
|Quote||Start the post entryform with a quote of this post's text.|
|Edit||Start editing this message.|
|IP address||View the poster's IP address. Only available when logged in as moderator or administrator.|
In this section, we will show you the details about how to enter a topic or reply in the forum.
In the forums, you use your own login name/nickname/id or, when allowed, you may want to work as anonymous. It's often better to use the forum with you own login name as that leads to easier navigation, easier searches in the forum history as you can limit your search to a user name and other users may start to recognize you from previous discussions which certainly improves the communication.
The page that you use to create a topic contains the following areas.
Table 8.2. Forum details
|Nickname||User's nickname, alias, login name|
|Message Icon||You can choose an icon to attach to you message.|
|Message||The text that you want to share.|
|Smilies||A list of smilies that you can choose from to insert in your message.|
|BBCode buttons||Buttons that help you to insert BBCode into your message. BBCode is a special kind of HTML code that prevents you from breaking the structure of the website in case you make a mistake.|
|Disable BBCode on this Post||Just in case you want to show BBCode instead of having it executed.|
|Disable Smilies on this Post||Just in case you want to show the code that is used for smilies instead of having it executed.|
|Show Signature||Check to print your signature under this post.|
|Preview button||Shows a preview page with the rendered post so that you can see if all presentation instructions are correct and for your convenience to reread it in presentation mode which makes finding errors easier.|
|Submit button||Submits the form, the contents are stored into the database and your post becomes visible in the forum.|
|Clear button||Clears all windows so that you can start over again.|
When you use the forum while being logged in as moderator or as administrator, you will see some extra management buttons in the topics list or at the bottom of a topic page.
You can use these buttons to do you job.
Table 8.3. Moderator tools
|Lock this topic so that nobody can reply to this topic anymore.|
|Move this topic to another forum to keep your forums organized and the topics clustered together in the forums where they belong.|
|Delete this topic. You may want to delete topics when someone has been doing cross posting. Cross posting means posting the same topic in more than one forum because one needs more attention to the topic or because one had found that he posted in the wrong forum. Another reason for deleting topics is when a topic disobeyes the rules of your forum.|
At a certain moment in time, your database may suffer from some troubles. A well know problem in the forum database is that you have deleted a certain user account for reasons that you may know and suddenly, a number of topics give you a database error and stop showing the contents of the post(s).
The forum code has been changed to deal with this situation. Whenever a userrecord is unavailable upon displaying a post that is related to that userrecord, the forum software will use a special username: "Deleted User". You may see that in the forum index but also in the topic view.
When you are logged in as admin, you get a special menu inside the post to deal with this inconsistency. In this section, we will show you all the options.
This combo box defaults to Tag For Later Action. This means that this post will be changed by setting the poster_id to it's negative equivalent. Eg.: when user id "90" is removed from the users table, the forum will report that user as Delete User. Upon execution of this repair function, the poster_id in the post will be changed to "-90". By making this choice, you can easily identify all posts from this deleted user and when it appears that this user is accidentally deleted, you can create a new user record for this user and have all his posts be updated with the new user_id as the poster_id. To perform this maintenance, you need to use phpMyAdmin which is available from the admin menu (Utilities & Stats).
The other option is that the poster_id in this post or topic will be changed to the Global Admin User. This is a special new user id carries the name "Administrator ". By renumbering the poster_id to this Global Admin User id, you effectively claim the post to belong to the Admin.
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