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Collaboration with the Forum Plugin

The Forum plugin is a great way to build an online community and support collaboration across the Internet or on a local intranet. You can create categories to organize conversations, create discussions, post messages, restrict forum access, and even convert glFusion stories into forum posts.

Before using the Forum plugin, you must create at least one category to organize your forums. Once a category is created you can add a forum to the category, where people who have the proper access rights can read and post new messages.

The Forum plugin also supports the glFusion security model, so you can easily restrict access to any forum or a group of forums. You may have a specific forum setup for site moderators to discuss issues and users. You can easily restrict access to this forum to only the defined moderators.

Another great feature, if you have created a few stories on the main page, and people have left comments in them, you can convert those stories into topics, and the comments into posts!

Forum Configuration Settings (Command & Control -> Configuration -> Forum)

There are a large number of general settings to be set for the plugin. All Forum Configuration option descriptions can be found the Forum Configuration Section.

Administration

The Forum plugin has many administration options, which can be accessed by selecting Forum in the Command & Control menu.

Statistics

You can go to the statistics page when you want to find out detailed statistics of the forum plugin. You can see the total number of categories, forums, and topics created. Additionally, it displays how many people have posted, and how many people viewed a post. On top of that, a little math is performed so you can see on average how many posts have been made per category, forum, and topic, as well as the average views for each category, forum and topic.

Forums

This is the page where you will create and manage all forums and forum categories. You can create a new category by clicking Add Forum Category. From this page, you must fill in the Name field, and optionally, Order, and Description. Click submit and you will be redirected back to the forums page. To edit a category, click the Edit button under the category you wish to edit. You will be taken to the same page as creating a category.

Once you have a category created, you should add at least one forum to it. You can add a forum by clicking Add A Forum in the appropriate category on the forums page. After clicking, you will be taken to another form. Again, you must fill in the Name field. The other fields are optional. To set the access rights, choose a group that will be able to view and post in this forum, in the Group Access drop down list. If read only is selected, then only the moderator will be able to post in the forum. You can select hidden forum so that it does not show up at all. For some integrated project forums, you may want to select the Hidden Forum option, so that the only place you can see the forum is in the project itself. Finally, if the Hide New Posts option is selected, new posts will not show up in the RSS feeds, or the recent posts block. You can edit a forum by clicking the Edit button beside the forum you wish to edit. Clicking this button will take you to the same page as creating the forum. You might also wonder what the ReSync button does. Click this to update any RSS feeds associated with this forum.

You can change the order in which the categories and forums are displayed in the list. To change a category's position, you must go in to edit that category, assign it an order number, and click submit.

Changing the order of a forum is a little bit easier. There is an order input field on the forums page, type the new order you want and submit. In both cases, you may need to edit the order of a couple different forums in order to get them in an order that's just right. Forums and categories will be displayed in ascending order, based on the order number.

Moderator

In the moderator page you can add, edit and delete a moderator for each forum. A moderator is a person with extra rights to a forum, who can delete posts, ban users, edit posts, move posts, and create sticky posts. You can make an entire group of people moderators of a forum as well as add multiple users or groups to a particular forum.

To add a user or group moderator record, select Add Record from the moderator page. Select either user or group. Select the forum they should be a moderator of, and select user(s) or group(s) that should be the moderator. You can select multiple users and groups by holding the CTRL key and clicking the appropriate users or groups. Finally, choose the permission set, and click the Add Record button.

All the permissions that you choose apply only to the forum selected. The delete permission allows a moderator to delete posts. Ban allows moderators to ban abusive users. Edit allows moderators to edit posts, while move allows moderators to move posts. Finally, stick allows a moderator to create a sticky post, which will stay at the top of the topic list.

The moderator page shows the list of current user moderators and group moderators. If the list gets to long, you can filter it out by selecting either User Records or Group Records at the top of the page. Select a forum to view records only for that forum. Once your filter is customized, click Filter View to see the results.

To edit a set of permissions, check/uncheck boxes in the row of the permission set you wish to edit. Click update in that row to apply your changes. You can also delete that permission set by clicking the Delete link in the appropriate row. If you want to delete more than one record at once, check off any boxes in the left most column, and click the trash can icon in that columns heading. A confirmation prompt will appear, so make sure you checked the right ones, as you cannot un-delete them.

Convert

The convert utility is a nice tool to migrate an existing story and its comments to a forum. Simply check off any stories you want to add to a forum, select a forum to migrate them to, and click Migrate Now. If you check the Delete after option, the story and its comments will be deleted afterwards.

Messages

The messages page allows you to see all posts in the system. You can filter the posts by the forum they belong to, or the user they were posted by. You will see the number of views each post had. From this page you can delete posts by clicking the Delete button. Clicking the Moderate link will take you to the forum list, where you can choose actions from the drop down list.

Import

If you are migrating from a phpBB3 Forum system, you can import the old forum posts into the glFusion Forum plugin.

Group Tags

Group tags are the little graphic that show under the user's avatar image in the forum post.

You can create a custom graphic for different folks based on their glFusion group membership.

For example, you could create a group called 'Nice People' using the standard Command & Control → Groups screen.

Then, in the Forum configuration, you could add a group tag by entering Nice People (the glFusion group) in the Add Element field (after I click the + for Group Tags), then hit Add Element, type in the graphic I want associated to the group Nice People.

You have to manually upload the graphic to public_html/forum/images/badges/. If you look there, you'll see a few examples.

Replace Site Index Page

You can configure the Forum Plugin to become the main index page for your site, replacing the default index page. The Forum Index Page (listing the Forum categories and forums) will become the main index page.

To enable this feature, navigate to the Forum Configuration (Command & Control → Configuration → Forum → Centerblock Tab). Set the following configuration options:

  • Enable Centerblock - Set to True
  • Placement on the Page - Set to Replace Home Page

User Functions

The Forum plugin has some user configurable options. By default, these are located in tabs across the top of the forum interface, but can also be set by the site admin to display in a block by changing the User Menu Type setting in the main Forum configuration screen.

Forum Index

The Forum Index tab will take you to the main page of the forum. This is where all the categories and their forums are displayed. This tab will always be displayed.

User Preferences

The User Preferences tab is only displayed if you are a logged-in user on the site. Here you can set some display preferences to your liking, including how many topics and posts to display per page, and how you would like to be notified of new posts.

Subscriptions

The Subscriptions tab is only displayed if you are a logged-in user on the site. This is where you can manage all the threads that you have subscribed to for notification of new posts.

This list can get rather long, so we recommend using the drop-down menu at the top to sort by Topic Notifications, by Forum Notifications, or by Exception Notifications. You can also sort your subscriptions by Forum in the second drop-down menu.

Users can select to receive the full forum post in their notification emails. To enable the feature to receive the full posts, check the Include full post in notification: box under the Forum Preferences (located under My Account → Account Settings). glFusion v1.1.5+

Bookmarks

The Bookmarks tab is only displayed if you are a logged-in user on the site. It contains a list of all bookmarked topics or posts that you have collected. It is sortable by any of the following fields: Forum, Topic, Author, Replies, Views and Date.

To bookmark a topic or post, first make sure you are logged-in to the site, then click the star icon in either the forum view or the thread view (see figures below).

Forum View

Thread View

Once bookmarked, the star icon will change to signify that the item has been added to your bookmarks tab.

To remove a bookmark, simply click on the star icon again.

Latest Posts

The Latest Posts tab is an extension of what is displayed on the homepage centerblock for the forum, and is a quick reference to the latest activity in the forum.

The number of posts to display is configurable by the admin in Command & Control»Configuration»Forum»General Settings section under the Number of last posts to show field.

The Popular Topics tab shows a list of the most active forum threads, sorted by number of views, in the system.

The number of posts to display is configurable by the admin in Command & Control»Configuratio»Foru»General Settings section under the Number of popular posts to show field.

Additional Tags

You can embed an image that will display inline in a forum post by using the following syntax:

[file]1[/file]

where 1 denotes which attachment to use. You can also make that image appear in a lightbox by specifying:

[file lightbox=1]1[/file]

Community Moderation

Community moderation is a concept / feature set that allows your forum users to help moderate your forums. This feature was added in glFusion v1.1.5. The concept is as follows:

Each forum has a view rating and a post rating. These are the minimum ratings a user much have to be able to view / post to a forum.

Each user is allowed to give or take a rating point to every other users on the system. A user can only 'vote' one time for a specific user, but they can 'retract' their vote at any time. The sum of all votes for a user is what makes their 'Group Comfort Level' rating.

The 'Group Comfort Level' is used to determine if a user can view or post to a specific forum.

Generally, the view rating should be very low, something like -10 (negative 10). The post rating may not be as low, for example a -5 (negative 5). This allows users who have lost their posting privilege to continue to see the forum posts and hopefully their rating will improve so they can again participate.

When using the Community Moderation System, it is recommended that you have at least one forum that has no posting restrictions where a user can talk about their rating and hopefully persuade other members to retract their negative votes. For example, you might create a forum called Community Moderation Discussion with a post rating of -500 (minus 500). This would be the forum where a user with a low comfort level score can plead their case or learn why people have given them negative votes.

Here is a real world example:

A forum is created with a view rating of -10 and a post rating of -5. As users post in the forum, other users will cast their vote. If one specific user is being overly abusive to other users, they may receive a few - (minus) votes, which will drive their overall rating to a -3 for example. This is a good method to 'warn' the user that others believe they are not behaving in the guidelines of the forums spirit and rules. If they continue to receive - (minus) votes

Every forum user starts off at a “0” group comfort level rating. This allows all current and new users to post from the moment they sign up with your site. Every user has a vote available for every other user. If you like the way a user is posting and find them to be valuable - you can give them a positive vote with the “+” sign right below their picture. This will increase their group comfort level rating. In the same vein, if you find a user is constantly hijacking threads, posting in a belligerent manor, generally being mean or causing constant disturbances - you can click on the “-” (minus) sign and give them a negative vote. If later, you feel like you want to give a change your vote or withdraw a positive vote you had previously given - depending on what you originally did with your vote in regards to that user - you'll always see a “+” or “-” underneath their name.

If for whatever reason, a user gets a group comfort level rating of “-5” (minus five), they will no longer be able to post anywhere except on the “Community Moderation System” forum. This allows people who have a “-5” to talk it over with the community on why they think they should have posting privileges back and those who have voted against them can decide if they want to give their tokens back to help them receive a rating higher than “-5”.

Votes should note be used against people “you disagree with”… Instead, negative votes should be given when a user is not following the rules or showing the proper kindness towards other users. Most sites want to see all sorts of opinions and views propagated throughout their site. This makes the site a great place of learning and information exchange. For those who can disagree but show kindness - be liberal with your “+” tokens!

The Community Moderation System does not work well on sites where users are allowed to post without logging into the site. Since there is no method to associate a vote with an anonymous user, it makes little sense to use this feature on sites without a login restriction.

If you are an admin and you need to adjust a member's vote total, you can do that under Command & Control » Forum » Community Moderation. Look for the User Ratings link in the top menu on that page.

BBcode Signatures

glFusion allows a user to specify a tag line that will be used as their signature below each of their posts. The tag line is just plain text and does not allow for much 'creativity'. If the site admin enables the Enable BBcode Signature (configuration setting under Command & Control → Configuration → Forum) setting, each user can design their own personal signature which supports images, text attributes (bold, color, etc.). If Enable BBcode Signature is enabled, the user can set their signature under My Account → Account Settings → About You tab.

WYSIWYG Editor

By default, the glFusion Forum plugin uses a simple BBcode style editor. New with glFusion v1.1.5 is the ability to use the glFusion Advanced WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor which allows users to post in HTML format. All HTML is filtered to remove malicious or dangerous code when the post is submitted.

To utilize the WYSIWYG editor, the following three (3) settings must be enabled in the Forum Configuration:

  • Allow HTML in Posts must be set to True
  • Enable WYSIWYG HTML Editor must be set to True
  • HTML Mode as Default Post Mode must be set to True

When using the WYSIWYG editor, there is no option to select plain text or bbcode as a posting format.

glfusion/forum.txt · Last modified: 2017/04/12 21:09 (external edit)

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