Getting started From Online Manual

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Getting Started

So, you have arrived at a forum powered by SMF! Perhaps you've been looking at the board index or a screen telling you that you need to register before you can access the forum.

Some forums permit guests to read posts or even post their own messages, while other forums only allow registered members to see the posts. At some forums, many of the most useful features will only become available to you when you become a registered member. Because SMF is such a flexible system, permissions will vary considerably between forums. Here are four key areas that normally are available for you.

User Box

Just below the forum banners, logos, and titles, is a user box which contains information about you, links to unread messages, and a quick search box. The user box can generally be collapsed (hidden) or expanded (shown) using the Upshrink icon Upshrink2.png

Main Menu

You've arrived here as a guest (or have registered but are currently logged out). The Main Menu (which appears on every page) should normally contain five or six buttons (or text links): Mainbuttons.gif

  • Home, this takes you back to the board index.
  • Help, this takes you to a guide to learn how to use the forums.
  • Search, this allows you to search the forums for whatever posts/topics/information that you're looking for.
  • Calendar, links to the forum calendar (if enabled).
  • Members, this displays the complete list of all the registered members on the forum.
  • Login, this allows you to log in if you're already registered.
  • Register, this button allows you to Register (or sometimes apply for registration) when you wish to do so.

However, once you've registered and logged in, the main menu should look a little different: Mainbuttons 02.gif

  • Home (as before).
  • Help (as before).
  • Search (as before).
  • Profile this allows you to make changes to your profile settings.
  • My Messages this takes you to personal message area (if enabled).
  • Calendar (as before).
  • Members (as before).
  • Logout, this allows you to log out again if desired.

Forum administrators should also note the presence of an additional "Admin" button, which will lead you to a page where you can manage and administrate your community.

Board Index

The board index (forum home page) is full of information and links. Its appearance is affected by some of the options the administrator has chosen, and by the theme. When the SMF default them is used, the board index normally looks something like this

  • The navigation tree helps with navigation. On this page, it consists only of the forum name, and links right back to the top of this board index.
  • The Mark as Read button enables registered members to mark all posts in the entire forum as 'read'. This will clear the list of posts in the Unread Posts section of the userbox
  • Category names are highlighted with a category name background.
    • If the category is collapsible, clicking the category name collapses (hides) or expands (shows) boards that belong to this category.
    • The Unread Posts link connects you to a list of all the posts from all the boards in this category which you have not yet read.
  • Within each Category, you will see listed one or more boards.
    • The board name links to the message index for that board.
    • The board description describes the board's content, and may also include links to child boards and/or specify the board's moderator(s).
    • The New Posts Off.png or No New Posts On.png icons, usually in the leftmost column, show registered members whether there have been any new posts to the board since they last read it. For some boards have child boards within them, the "new posts in child board" icon shows that there are new posts, but only within a child board.

Message Index

Like the board index, the message index interface is straightforward. The essential components are:

  • The navigation tree, usually in a space-saving horizontal mode.
  • List of Child Boards, if any, in a format similar to that of the Board Index.
  • Board Description, if enabled by the administrator
  • Page numbers, linking to further pages of the board. Go up and Go Down links to the top and bottom of the current page of the message list.
  • The Buttons
    • The Mark as Read button enables registered members to mark all posts in this board as "read".
    • The Notify button enables registered members to subscribe to email notification of replies to topics in this board.
    • The New Topic and New poll buttons are for starting new topics and polls, as described in the posting article.
  • The message header contains Subject, Started by, Replies, Views and Last post links to enable you to sort the columns by these headings. The Last Post heading link toggles between ascending and descending order.
  • The message columns are
    • The Topic icons, explained by the key below, provide information about whether this topic is a poll, is locked, has gotten a lot of responses, and whether you have posted to it.
    • The Post icons can be set by the poster to say something about the post -- is it a question? Is it solved?
    • The Topic subject links to the start of the topic, and is followed by links to subsequent pages and a "new" button to take registered members straight to their first unread Post of the topic.
      • If quick moderation is enabled, double-clicking in a blank area of the Topic subject column will allow you to edit the title of the topic straight from the message index. You can enable quick moderation in your Profile, and edit the subject of any posts you have permission to edit.
  • In the Subject column, the "Started by" name links to the member's profile (for registered members).
  • Last post lists the date of the most recent post, the name of the member who made that post, and a link Last post.gif to that post.
  • Below the list of messages, the Jump to menu provides a convenient quick method of navigating the forum. It will allow a user to quickly "jump" to any Board that they have access to view.

Topic Display

Sometimes referred to as threads, topics are actually where you find posted messages:

  • Some forums show the navigation tree at the top in a space-saving horizontal mode.
  • Some forums may also be configured with 'Previous' and 'Next Topic' links.
  • The page numbers link to further pages of the topic, and may be accompanied by 'Go Up' and 'Go Down' buttons linking to the top and bottom of the current page.
  • The Reply button enables you to Reply to the topic.
  • The Notify button enables registered members to subscribe to email notification of replies to the topic.
  • The Mark Unread button enables registered members to mark the Topic as 'unread', which means that it will still be listed as new and can be effectively 'saved for later'. Note that this button changes to Add Poll in the bottom button set for users with permission to add polls to existing topics.
  • The Send Topic button enables registered members to send a link to the topic by e-mail.
  • The Print button creates a simplified, printer-friendly rendering of the page.
  • The author name links to the author of the post's own profile.
  • The author details in the left-hand column may be accompanied by further personal information.
  • The topic subject links back to the start of the topic.
  • The Quote button enables you to quote the post.
  • Furthermore, Modify and Delete options are normally provided to enable registered members to edit their own posts.
  • Report to Moderator enables you to report abusive or wrongly-placed posts to the forum staff.
  • "Logged" indicates that the IP address of the author has been logged. The actual IP address is only available to board administrators or those that have the permission to manage members of a forum.
  • The "Jump to menu" link provides a convenient, quick method of navigating the forum. It will allow a user to quickly "jump" to any board that they have access to view.
  • The "Quick Reply" section at the bottom of the topic's page allows members to post in a posting box located at the bottom of every page in a topic as an alternative to clicking the "Reply" button that leads you to a new page to submit a message.