Tutorial for newbies 2 - posting and replying to messages

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Tutorial for newbies 2 - posting and replying to messages

Postby Grahame Gardner » Fri Mar 02, 2007 12:07 pm

**updated for new forum software 9 Feb 2008 **

In this second tutorial, I'll show you how to post new messages of your own, and explain about some more advanced tips and tricks to enhance the appearance of your messages. It gets a bit technical in places as we introduce formatting codes, but try to bear with it and take things one step at a time - it's not as complicated as it sounds. Again, please open up the forum in another tab or browser window so that you can keep referring back here. Hold down your CTRL-key and click here to do that, or right-click on that link and select 'open link in ...'

Replying to messages and making a new post.

When you are looking at a topic, the screen looks something like this:

At the top, you will see the forum section listed; in this case Board index/Main Forum/General. You can click on those links to get back to the relevant section. Underneath is the title of the topic ('Introduce Yourself' in this case).
On the right-hand side (not shown in picture) there are numbered page navigation buttons, needed if the topic thread is a long one.

To respond to the thread in question, click on the button that says 'post reply'. This will add your message to the end of the thread.

If you want to start a completely different topic, you need to use the 'new topic' button. This one is found on the index page of each forum section, as shown here:

Regardless of which button you press, you will see a screen something like this:

If this is a new topic, you will have to enter a thread title in the 'subject' box (such as 'Introduce Yourself' in the example above). Try to make this relevant and provide some information on the post subject, not just a vague title like 'help please'. You want something that grabs people's attention and informs them what your post is about.

If you're responding to an existing message, you don't have to enter a subject line, although you can do so if you wish.

Underneath the subject line is a row of buttons; we'll come to those in a moment. Then you have a blank box in which you type your message. In the most basic case, you would type your reply into the box and then hit the 'submit' button at the bottom of the window to post your message.

To the right of the message box is a selection of 'emoticons' or 'smileys' (not shown in picture). You can click on these to insert one into your message at any point (some of them don't work very well!)

Under the message box, you have a selection of check boxes. Don't worry about the first two options yet. The 'Attach Signature' button is normally checked, and this will add the text that you entered as your signature in your profile page (you can change this at any time by clicking on the 'User Control Panel' button on the Board Index page, then click the 'Profile' tab). Your signature is added to each of your posts automatically, saving you from having to enter your name each time, for example.

The 'notify me when a reply is posted' box is handy if you don't want to check into the forum regularly. If you check this box, then the forum will automatically send you a reminder email if someone replies to your post.

You will see another tab in this section labelled 'Poll Creation'. This is a crude multiple-choice voting system that allows you to create up to 10 options. Examples of polls might be; Question: 'what's your favourite dowsing tool? Options: Pendulum/ L-rods/ Aurameter/ Y-rods/ other'. The poll appears at the top of the message thread and allows people to vote on it, the results displaying as a simple bar graph. Have a look through the forum at some of the existing polls to see what they look like.

You don't have to create a poll of course; usually you will just ignore this section.

The important buttons are at the bottom of the message window - the 'save' 'preview' and 'submit' ones. 'Preview' allows you to see what your finished post will look like, and I do recommend that you use this button every time to check that you haven't made any mistakes. You will see what your finished message looks like, and underneath it you will still be able to make changes to it, before clicking the 'submit' button to finally post your message. The 'Save' button will save a copy of your message for you. You can find it again at a later date by going to your User Control Panel and clicking on 'Manage drafts' option on the 'Overview' tab. There are a lot more things you can do in your User Control Panel, so don't be afraid to experiment with the different options there.

Formatting and links
Firstly, I will have to introduce a convention into this post in order to demonstrate the formatting codes. That convention is that I use curly brackets {} to enclose the codes when they should be square []. Whenever you see {curly brackets} in the text that follows, you should substitute [square brackets]. I have to do this or else the forum software thinks I'm inputting codes and will try to interpret them.

Now let's go back to those buttons above the message window. These are used to add formatting to your message text. Let's look at these in turn. The first three will add bold, italic and underlined text respectively. If you click on the 'b' one you will see it inserts a {b} code into your message. If you click it again, it will insert a {/b} code. This tells the forum to format the text between those two codes as bold. If you've already written your message, you can highlight the text you want to format by clicking and dragging your mouse over it, and then click the formatting button. This will enter the correct codes at the start and end of the highlighted text. You can also just type in the codes manually, and this is usually the quickest option when you get used to them.
Each of the buttons will show a help text beneath when you hover your mouse over them; this gives you an idea of how they will format your text.

The quote button is used to highlight text quoted from another post. I'll explain that further in a bit. Don't worry about the 'code', 'list'and 'list=' buttons for now; you'll probably never use them. You'll see what the 'code' button does in the next paragraph.

The 'Img' button can be used to insert an image from another location on the internet, if you know the full address of it. You can usually find this out by right-clicking on the picture and selecting 'properties'. For instance, if I put the following into my message:
Code: Select all

I will get a picture of the Cameron Aurameter from the main BSD website in my post. Here it is, just to prove it:

You can also link to your own pictures in this way if you have them on the internet; there is another illustrated tutorial showing how to do this in the 'forum matters' section of the forum.

Lastly, the 'URL' button is used to insert a hyperlink to another website, for example
Code: Select all
which displays the text http://britishdowsers.org in your message. When clicked on, this text will link to the main BSD website.

There's another way to use this one; instead of putting it as I have above, I can also write
Code: Select all
 [url=http://britishdowsers.org]BSD website[/url]
Here, the message will display 'BSD website' as an active link that can be clicked on (try it!). This is useful if the web address is very long or you want to simplify it by saying 'click here' or something similar instead.

The last two items allow you to set different sizes and colours for your text. The easiest way to use these is to highlight your text and then select the option you want; the codes will be inserted for you in your reply, for example
Code: Select all
 [color=red]this text would be in red[/color]
this text would be in red.

You can combine different codes in the same bit of text. As long as you have all the {code} tags at the start and the {/code} tags at the end of the bit of text, it will work. So, for example,
Code: Select all
 [b][i][size=18] this text will display like this [/b][/i][/size]
will show up as this text will display like this in your message. Keep trying it out by using the 'preview' button until you are happy with the result.

Don't be intimidated by all this coding talk; just try it out and use the 'preview' button to see what it looks like. You can always press the 'back' button on your browser to get out of most situations. Before long you'll be typing the codes directly into your message text like a professional.

Quoting from other posts
Let's return to the 'quote' button. If you cut and paste some text from another post into your message, pressing the 'quote' button will result in something like this:
Code: Select all
 [quote] this is the text of the posting you wish to quote from. [/quote]

If you click the 'preview' button to see how this looks, you will see the quoted text highlighted within a grey box in your reply, like this:

You can also use the quote function to reply directly to a message. You will also find a 'Quote' button at the top right corner of each message in a thread, together with some other buttons:

You will only see the 'edit' and 'X' button on posts that you have made yourself. Clicking on 'Edit' allows you to make changes in your post - handy if didn't spot a mistake before hitting the 'submit' button. The 'X' button will let you delete your post.

Clicking on the 'quote' button opens a reply window in which the entire text of the post is quoted, together with the name of the author, like this:

When using the quote function this way, you should delete any parts of the original post that are not relevant to your reply to make things easy to read; in a long thread it can become very tedious to have the entire text of a post repeatedly quoted by different people. In this case, the text will again display within a grey box, but this time the name of the author will be added at the top of the box.

Use the 'quote' and other formatting functions with discretion, and your posts will be clear and easy to read.

The buttons on the right, underneath a user's name, allow you to contact them by email or Private Message, and also to go to their website if they have included one in their Profile.

That pretty much covers all the basic functions of the forum. There are a couple of tutorials in the 'Forum Matters'section ("Putting hyperlinks in your posts and other coding stuff" and 'Getting pictures into your posts') that will explain these more advanced functions. Don't be afraid to experiment with your posts by using the 'preview' button to see what different things do - remember that your browser's 'back' button is your friend.

If you really get your knickers in a twist over something, you can get in touch with me through forum 'at' britishdowsers.org.
But before you do, it's worth having a look at the Frequently Asked Questions page. You might just find the answer you're looking for.
Happy posting!

Thanks to ImageShack for Free Image Hosting
Last edited by Grahame Gardner on Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: improved clarity
The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it - Terry Pratchett.
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Grahame Gardner
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