Technical Forum Instructions
At the December 2001 meeting, it was anounced that a "technical forum" page had been added to the club's web site. If you are not familiar with forums, they are in a nutshell a message board-type capability where anyone can post a question and anyone else visiting the site can post a response to that question.
These instructions are a bit lengthy, but I wanted to ensure that everyone understood just how the forum worked so that they would feel comfortable using it. I have included a lot of detailed information on how to use the forum so I suggest you might want to refer to these instructions as you work with the forum in the future.
Our technical forum's purpose is to serve as one of the vehicles the club is undertaking to provide technical information and increase all members computer knowledge via a Q&A format. This allows someone who is experienced in a particular problem or subject matter area to share their knowledge with someone who may be encountering the situation for the first time. Let me reiterate, however, the purpose is not to serve as a day-to-day training class but to help users of all knowledge levels solve problems they encounter and are unable to resolve on their own through available resources.
I have agreed to serve as the initial administrator of the forum. In that capacity, I would like to suggest a number of thoughts that I believe will help the forum to operate to the maximum benefit of all members:
1. The technical forum is a specific web page that is accessed via the home page of the club's main web site http://wnccsc.tripod.com. On the home page is a list of "member links". One of the links listed under this heading is "Technical Forum". By merely clicking on this link you will enter the forum on a page entitled WNCC Technical Forum. Note that once on the first page of the forum, you may "bookmark" this page to provide easy and prompt access to the forum in the future without having to go through the club's home page.
2. If you wish to post a question, it is really quite simple. From the main
forum page, click on "new article" and you will be taken to the next page where
you complete some basic information and submit your question. You must enter your name,
your email address and as descriptive a subject as possible for your question. Remember,
when potential responders to your question are perusing the main forum page, they only see
the "subject" of each question, so to catch their interest and inform them of
what the question relates to, the more descriptive the subject line is, the more chance
you will have of getting a prompt and accurate answer.
The icons you can select are just kind of cutesies, and you can select one or not any time you are submitting or responding to questions, it is up to you. I would suggest you at least select the "question mark" when initially submitting a question so it shows up as a question on the main forum page.
Beneath the icons there is a box that I highly suggest you check that will provide for an automatic notification to you each time someone posts a response to your question. This serves as a reminder to you to then go back to the site to read the answer to your question. Thus, it is critical that you make sure your email address is entered correctly.
The last thing to do on the submission page is to type in your question. Again, be as specific as possible so that a potential responder is fully aware of the situation that you are inquiring about. There may be cases where more information may be required before the question can be correctly answered and the forum administrator or a potential responder may post that request under your question or may merely send you an email directly requesting more information. Posting the request under the original question (and then the additional information in response also being posted there) is the recommended way to handle this situation as it then provides the complete picture for other members who wish to review that Q&A for their own information. There is a box under the question block that provides spell checker capability. When the page is completed, click "submit" and your question will be posted on the forum for all to see.
3. Please use extreme care, and proofread your inputs carefully, before you hit the "submit" button because once a question or a response is posted there is unfortunately no way to modify it. The only workaround for this problem is if you do make a mistake and it affects the accuracy of the information posted, you can notify the administrator by email and I will delete it and then you can input it again correctly. The administrator's email address is: email@example.com.
4. Note that as forum administrator, I have the responsibility to monitor the appropriateness, tenor, language, etc., of all postings. If I do not feel they are appropriate, I have the ability to delete them. I will not do this until I speak (via email) with you firstassuming you respond promptly. There will be a lot of information ultimately posted to this forum, so please refrain from using it for any purpose other than to post a technical question.
5. As you review the questions posted on the forum and feel capable of responding to one or more of them, please do so. To respond to a question, you merely click on the question. You will be taken to the next page which shows the question and some options on the right side of the screen. Click on "reply" and you will be taken to the identical blank page that is used for submitting a question. However, when you have completed your header information and typed your response, when you click "submit" your reply will appear on the main forum page directly under, but indented from, the question you are answering. It is really quite simple to usewith a little experimenting you will quickly see how it works.
6. In order to provide a common and continuous thread to the original question, all requests for additional information, all responses to the original question and all responses to any responses will all be posted under the original question and each slightly indented from the one above it. They are sequenced merely in the order they are received. So as you can see, it is possible that a question (or a response) may generate more than one response. It is possible it could be a different response (computers are notorious for having multiple ways to accomplish the same thing) or they might be a correcting or clarifying response to an earlier response.
7. As mentioned earlier, if the "notify me..." box is checked by the person who submitted the original question, they will automatically receive an email whenever a direct response is posted to their question. However, please take note that if someone chooses to make a clarifying response to an existing response, they can do so by either a separate reply to the original question or by a reply directly to the response itself. If they choose to reply to the response directly, then an email will NOT in that case be sent to the question originator. However, if the original responder also checked the "notify me..." box, then they will get an automatic email notification that someone responded to their response. If you were able to follow all thatit is really not as complicated as it soundsI think you will agree that given this setup (which we cannot change), that it is really best to reference ALL responses as "replies" to the original question so that the originator gets notification when something relative to their question gets posted. Of course, email notification notwithstanding, responses can be checked at any time by visiting the site directly.
8. In connection with the discussion in item #7, as well as just for your own information and education and potentially answering posted questions, ALL members are encouraged to visit the site regularly. Please note, however, there is no guarantee that any given question will be answered and there is certainly no guarantee that any answer proffered is a correct one. Hopefully enough people will use the site regularly so that all questions will receive answers. If not, we will have to try to assign questions to "knowledgeable volunteers", but I don't want to resort to that unless it becomes necessary. We all joined this club to help each other, so visit the site frequently and respond to questions where you are able.
9. For the time being, we plan to leave all questions and responses posted on the forum page indefinitely. If this gets to be unwieldy for any reason, we may have to rethink this policy but we are going to start out that way. As alluded to earlier, note that questions will be listed on the main forum page in the order received and remain in that sequence whether answered or not. Perusal of all the questions and responses is made easier, however, by the fact that once you have clicked on a question or a response to read it, that link will turn from black to pink permanently. So the next time you visit the site, it will be easy to see which questions and responses you have and have not already read.
10. One thing I noticed in experimenting with the site is that the actual posting of an input on the main forum page after hitting the "submit" button is a little slow. It may be several minutes before it shows up so don't panic and think something went wrong, just be patient.
Please recognize this technical forum is a new endeavor for the club, an experiment if you will. The general feeling of those members at the meeting when this was discussed was that it should be quite beneficial to all members, beginners and experts alike. It will only be as good as everyone makes it so I would like to first of all encourage everyone to use it. Secondly, I would like to request that any ideas you might have for better utilizing this as a tool toward increased computer learning to please send me an email and I will discuss it at the next club meeting when I give my report on how the forum is working. The email for the forum administrator is firstname.lastname@example.org. HAPPY COMPUTING!
Technical Forum Administrator
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