Comms 101: Discourse Forum

1. Introduction to Discourse

Discourse is the name of the software that we use for our community forum. One of the oldest forms of communication used by the club, Discourse is essentially a message board broken up into topics that everyone is welcome to use. The DJB uses the forums for a variety of things, including run-ons, writing fiction, responding to news on the main page and just for fun. Once a post is made on the forums, it will remain there until it is moved by an administrator into the archives. Because the Brotherhood has used these forums for so long, they can seem cluttered and scary to first time users. That is why we decided to provide this course. So let’s get started.

2. Registration

The forums use an integrated sign in program. As a result, there is no separate password to remember. Once you sign up for the DJB, you already have an account on the forums. To access it the first time, sign into the main DJB website and then click the “Discussion Forums” link in the “Main” category of the top-navigation menu. Once you are on Discourse, you can sign into the forums by clicking the “Log In” button in the top right corner.

3. Navigation

Navigation

3.1 Display Options

When you open the forums, the topics will be sorted by global pinned first, followed by the rest in latest order. Near the top left, there will be a highlighted word: “latest.” The words following it allow you to sort the topics by Categories, Top (topics with the most likes), Unread, and Your Posts.

3.2 Scrolling

Our forums use a feature that loads the whole topic as you read. As a result, the topic is not broken up into pages like most other forums and can get very long. Discourse has built in a shortcut to bypass the endless scrolling. On the right of the screen, you’ll find a red scroll bar that indicates the date and post you are currently view. Clicking or dragging down to a lower point on the bar will allow you to jump to later posts and display the date they were posted.

In the top right corner, there is a magnifying glass icon. It is circled in green in the image above. This is the search button. Searches look for keywords in the title and body of the topics and return the result.

4. Profile Options

From your profile (circled in blue), you can send messages, set preferences, choose an avatar, see info on messages or posts you posted or replied to, or sign out. From another person’s profile, you can send them a private message.

5. Posting Options

Posting Options

5.1 Responding to a News Post

On the news feed, some articles show a box with an arrow instead of the number of comments for that article. This box indicates that there is a Discourse topic where the replies are located. Posting a reply to these topics is done just like any other topic: click the box, then continue the discussion, which will open the topic.

5.2 Create a New Topic

The fastest way to create a new topic is to use the “new topic” button at the top right of the main page (circled in orange).

5.3 Replying to a Post

To reply to a single post, use the reply button in the bottom right corner of the post. Your reply will be added at the bottom of the topic, and the original post and reply will have links to one another. Please avoid using this method for run-ons or fiction topics, as it might distract from or disrupt the flow of the story.

5.4 Replying to a Topic

The preferred method to reply for run-ons is to use the highlighted reply button at the bottom of the topic. This will simply add your reply to the bottom of the topic.

5.5 Quoting

If you want to quote something on our forums, we have two methods to assist you. For a partial quote of a post, highlight the quote and reply to it using the reply button that will appear over it. The second option is to reply to the post rather than the whole thread. In the toolbar above the post window is an icon that looks like a cartoon speech bubble. If you hover your mouse over it, the option to quote the entire post will appear. If you reply to the topic, the speech bubble will quote the first post in the topic.

6. Formatting

6.1 Post and Preview Window

Formatting

After clicking on one of the reply buttons, two boxes will appear on the screen. The one on the left, the post window, is where you type your message. The right box is a preview box. As you type and format, your changes will automatically appear here. If this box is too distracting, you can temporarily close it by clicking the “hide preview” button on the bottom right. Always remember to preview your work before submitting it.

6.2 Toolbar

Above the post window is a toolbar resembling the traditional toolbar in most word processing programs. Unlike the word processing programs, you have to highlight the portion of text you wish to format before any formatting will take effect. In the post window, the new formatting will appear as Markdown code.

6.3 Markdown

Markdown is a language supported by the forums that allows you to format your post. We encourage you to review Markdown if you are not already familiar with it. We have two courses written to help introduce you to the language. I suggest looking over Markdown 101 before trying Markdown 102.

6.4 Mentioning Others

The @mention feature allows you to reference a member in the post, similar to Twitter. The mentioned member will then be notified that someone is talking to or about them.

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