Sunday, September 16, 2012

HASA News - How-tos September 2012

How do I...

... use the Forums?

In this How-to you will learn how to join a forum, how post to one and how to create one.

What are the Forums?

A forum is a group of discussion threads. The threads in a forum are organized around something - an author, a story, a topic, an event, etc. Here HASA members can discuss, debate, critique, or just hang out. Some forums are also available to the general public for reading.

There are seven forums at HASA:

Some forums are started by admins, but many more belong to individual members, for example authors who want to have a place to discuss their stories.

Closed Forums

Closed forums are only accessible to people who have been authorized by the creator of the forum. A forum may be closed for several reasons: for instance, an author may use a closed forum to discuss a story she's writing with her beta(s), or it could be about an adult story or discuss mature themes.

Read-only Forums

Read-only forums allow anyone to read a topic without being able to post. For instance, most of the site announcements are posted in read-only forums; only site admins can post to these.

How to join a Forum

  1. Click on the forum you would like to participate in. If it is an open discussion, you will see 'You are not a participant in this discussion,' followed by a 'Sign Me Up!' link in the "Participation" box in the navigation column.
  1. If you click on a forum that is closed, you will see the message 'We're sorry, this is a closed discussion'. If you want to take part in the discussion, click the 'Request Forum entry' button. An email will be sent to the discussion owner who may give or deny access, and you will receive confirmation of the result by email. Be patient; it may take a while for the forum owner to get the email and respond.
  1. For an open forum, simply click on 'Sign Me Up.'
  2. You will now see 'You are a full participant in this discussion.' You can now read or post at any time.

How to post in a Forum

  1. For any forum you wish to participate in, either by reading or posting, you must first join the forum as described above.
  2. Click on the forum you want to post in. If you are not already a participant, click on 'Sign me up!'
  3. Find the thread that you would like to post to and click on it.
  4. If you find a post you would like to reply to, click the 'Reply to Post' button in the message information box.
  5. Type your response into the message form. Don't forget to spell check!
  6. Click 'Post Reply.'
  7. Now, look over your post. If you want to change anything, click on the 'Edit Message' button in the message information box, and edit the post as you like.

How to start a new topic in a Forum

  1. Go to the forum you are interested in. If you have already joined the discussion, you will see a button 'Add a New Topic Thread' in the Participation box in the navigation column.
  2. Click the button.
  3. Type in the subject for the topic. This is what will appear in the topic list when that forum is opened.

Make it clear what the topic is about. Starting a topic in Jane Doe's forum called 'About your story' might be fine now when Jane only has one story; when she has eight it will be confusing.

How to create a Forum

Anyone, whether you are a writer or a reader, can create one or more forums. Obviously, you can start a forum to discuss your stories, but there are many interesting forums here on a wide range of topics related to writing. The busiest forums tend to be in the Resources Forums because that's where people go to look for help with research and to picking each others' brains on obscure Tolkien facts.

The key to getting a forum going is post a lot in that discussion yourself. Forums that look active attract more activity. If no one posts a reply to you right away, post something new - a new chapter, a new idea, a note about something you saw and thought was interesting, etc.

Also, post in other forums - that's how other members get to know you. If you like someone's stories, that person may have similar interests and may like yours, and the conversation may interest them in your forum or your stories. If it is a general interest forum, just be sure you are posting something pertinent to the topic. If you are posting in someone's story forum, you should be there to talk about her stories, not advertise your own. It is considered poor manners to "hijack" threads to try to draw people to your own forum.

If you want feedback on a story, make it easy for those who might want to comment. You can do this by:

  • Linking your story to your forum
  • Asking specific questions in your forum introduction, the first message of your topic thread, or at the beginning or end of your story.

It is always easier to give a specific rather than general comment. Answering 'What did you think of it?' is much harder than 'Did Gandalf's motivations make sense?' or 'Is the Rohan scene too choppy?'

Now, how to create your forum:

  1. Locate an "Add Forum" link or button. These are located:
    • In the main Forums navigation drop down menu
    • In the top title bar on a Conference list of forums (See example in the Stories Forums . Please note, you have to be logged in.)
    • On the main "My Forums" page.
  2. Click the link or button.
  3. You will see the Add a Forum form.
  4. Type in the forum name; short names are preferred and display better. There is a 50 character maximum for titles.
  5. If this forum is in the Stories Forums, you might choose to title it by your name: 'Name - Stories,' by the name of the story itself or whatever descriptive name you want to use. If it is in Members, you can also use your name 'Name's Discussion,' or choose another title that you like.

    Keep in mind that if you title a story discussion by the name of one story, you may need to add another discussion or change the name of the existing one when you post other stories. It's easiest to use a general name for your discussion, and post a list of stories in the introduction (and edit that when you add a story).
  6. Choose which conferences you want the forum to appear in. Available conferences are:
    • Members
    • Stories
    • Challenges
    • Resources
    • Workshop (Note: you can only add to this conference when you are a member of a workshop)
  7. Write your introduction. This serves the same function that a summary does for a story; it is a way to tell members what's inside, and interest them in entering. It can be as simple as 'This is a place to discuss my stories,' or as long and detailed as you like. If it is very long, it will mean that readers have to scroll repeatedly to get to the threads, which some may find annoying.
  8. Choose whether you want other members to be able to link their stories to your forum, or whether only you may link to the forum.
  9. Decide whether you want to receive emails when there is a new post in your forum. You can always change your mind later. We recommend saying "Yes".
  10. Select whether your forum is for general or adult audiences. Please clearly mark forums or posts that contain mature content.
  11. Select who may participate in your forum. Unless you have a reason (such as discussing a story in beta, or a discussion on adult topics) to keep people out, you should choose "Open to all HASA Members, General Public may read." You can always change it later.
  12. Click "Add Forum".

If there is more you want to learn more about how the forums work, you can find the answer in the Forums FAQ

Have fun!

And if there is any topic you'd like to see in the how-to, tell us and we'll try to answer your question!

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