Friday, May 18, 2007

How To: Create and Link a Forum

A tutorial for HASA authors on how to create a story forum and link stories to forums. There are a large number of screen shots for this how to. Rather than overload the tutorial with images, I have provided links to pop open windows with the images.

  1. Log in to HASA. This will allow you to access your management screens.
  2. Click on the My Stuff menu. Locate the "Forums" link. It is the second from the last link in the menu. Image here.
  3. Go to main My Forums page. If you have existing forums, you will see a grid with them in alphabetical order. If you do not have a forum or none of the forums you already have are going to work for you, you will need to add a forum. Image here. There is an on-line tutorial to help you with creating forums. Look for the link near the text resizing links.
  4. Add a new forum (if desired). The Forums sub-menu is at the bottom of the page so you will have to scroll. Look for the "Add a Forum" link. Image here.
  5. Pick your forum options. As you can see, there are some instructions right there on screen, too. Image here.
    For best results, it is usually a good idea to:
    1. Put your name or the story name in the title of the forum.
    2. Add it to the Stories Forum
    3. Provide a descriptive introduction so people have a good idea of what they will find in the forum before they click on it.
    4. Be VERY clear if your forum is intended for discussing mature topics! Give people an opportunity to avoid topics and discussions they may find objectionable.
    5. Share or allow linking. This option will become more clear later down, but in general you should say "Yes" to linking.
    6. It is a good idea to sign yourself up for email alerts. This way, whenever a message is posted to your forum ,you get a copy in your email box.
  6. Fine tune your discussion. After you add your discussion, you will want to double check a few more details. From the grid of existing forums, click the "Manage" link. This takes you to the management screen for an individual forum. At the top is information about the forum itself, while below is a list of all the posts to the forum. For now, just click on the "Edit Discussion" link in the upper right. Image here.
  7. Set forum options. The editing screen looks very much like the add screen, except you have two more choices. Image here. They are:
    1. Active. Your forum must be active to be shared. If you need to take something out of view quickly, switch it to inactive.
    2. Open. The default for forums is Open. If you want to limit your forum to only invited readers, set it to closed, then use the "Manage Users" screen to add the desired members. In general, keep your forum open. You'll get more comments that way.
  8. Link a story. Once you have a prepared forum, you're ready to link a story. Click on the "Link Stories" link in the Forums left-hand sub menu. On that screen, you have drop downs for linking stories to forums. You can link one story to several forums and you can link one forum to several stories. Begin by selecting a story from the first menu. Image here.
  9. Link a discussion. In the next drop-down, you will see your forums at the top and then all forums available for linking below that. Why would you want to link you story to someone else's discussion? You might be working with other authors on related stories and want to reference their discussions. You might want to link to a Resource discussion, or a general discussion on a relevant topic. All you have to do is select a linkable forum from the list and click link story. Image here.
  10. You're done! You now have a forum discussion linked to your story.

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