Table of Contents
The Forum plugin is a wonderful 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 excellent 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!
Overview of features
- Flexible Permissions to control access and posting
- Integrated Likes system to allow users to give and receive likes
- Community Moderation feature to allow site users to help moderate users
- Flexible BBCode or WYSIWYG editor
- Forums can allow file attachments
- User bookmarks to provide easy access to interesting posts
- Subscription feature to allow users instant notification via email of new posts and replies
- Integrated Smiles and support for additional Smiley plugins
To facilitate the use of the documentation, we need to define the terms we will use to refer to the various items in the Forum Plugin.
- A Category is a container that holds forums, it is used as a method to organize various forums by subject.
- A forum contains topics / posts. Every forum must be a member of a category.
- A topic is the term used to refer to all posts on a specific subject. For example, the initial post in a forum will be the parent topic, all reply posts will become children to this parent. The entire set of posts make up the topic. A simple way to view it, a Topic is the initial post and all replies to that post.
- A post is the individual post made by users of your forums. A post is a single item, such as a reply or a new entry to the forum.
- Bulletin Board Code is a lightweight markup language used to format posts. BBcode provides the ability for bolding, italics, and other formatting features without having to allow HTML to be entered into a post. BBcode provides a small security advantage to allowing direct HTML editing.
- WYSIWYG Editor
- What You See Is What You Get is a term that refers to an editor that displays the formatted text instead of the underlying markup. WYSIWYG produces HTML behind the scenes to format the text.
There are several configuration options that allow you to customize how the Forum Plugin operates on your site. See the Forum Configuration guide from the Configuration section of the wiki for details on each of the options.
Only Root users and user's in the Forum Admin group can change the Forum Configuration. Forum moderators cannot edit the Forum configuration.
Features discussed below will highlight how some of these configuration options will control how the Forum Plugin operates.
Administering the Forums
Forum Configuration settings are accessed via the Command & Control → Configuration screens. Day to day forum administration, where you create forums, manage moderators, etc. is done through the Command & Control → Forum administration screens.
The main Forum Administration screen displays various statistics about your forums. The top navigation menu is where you select the various administrative options.
Creating Categories and Forums
All forums must be a member of a category. Think of categories as the high-level container used to organize your forums by subject.
To access the Category / Forum manager, select the Forums menu option from the Forum Administration Menu.
Creating / Editing a Category
To create a new category by clicking Add Forum Category. Each category has 3 elements:
- Name – The category name
- Order – Order to display categories (lower numbers display first, so 5 will display before 10)
- Description – a brief description of the category
Categories do not have permission settings, instead permissions (who can view, post) is controlled at the forum level. You can edit a category at any time to change the name, description and display order.
Creating / Editing Forums
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. This will take you to the New Forum entry page. You will need to enter the following information:
- Enter a descriptive name for the forum.
- Enter a brief description of the forum. This description will display below the forum name in the forum index view.
- Display After
- Allows you to set the display order. Select an existing Forum to display after, or First Position to make it the first forum in the list.
- Group Access
- Controls which group can view the forum. Note that a user cannot post to forums they cannot view.
- Able to Add Attachments
- Controls the group that can add attachments to the forum. For example, you may only want to allow members of a certain group (i.e.; moderators) to be able to add attachments to a forum post. See Attaching Files to Posts for more details on how it is used.
- Read Only Forum
- If checked, only site admin or forum moderators can post to the forum
- Hidden Forum
- If checked, the forum does not show up in the Forum Index page. User’s must know the URL to navigate to in order to view / post to this forum.
- Hide New Posts
- New posts will not be included in the Forum’s RSS feed (if enabled). New posts will not be included in the Forum New Post block (if enabled).
Other Forum Maintenance Tasks
Editing a Forum
You can edit a forum at any time by selecting the Edit option from the Forum Administration screen.
Deleting a Forum
You can also delete a from by selecting the Delete option from the Forum Administration screen. If a forum is deleted, all posts in that forum will be deleted. Deleting a forum will also delete all likes (if enabled) associated to posts in the forum being deleted.
Resyncing a Forum
Resyncing a Forum – There may be times where directly modifying the database table or other actions can cause the internal counters used by the forum to track the number of posts per topic, per forum and per category could become out of sync. The ReSync option will rebuild these pointers. Generally, you should not need to use this option.
Setting up Moderators
From the Moderator screen 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 forum.
The moderator page shows the list of current user moderators and group moderators. If the list gets too 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 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.
Edit / Delete Moderator
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 recover them once deleted.
If you enable Likes from the Forum Configuration (Command & Control → Forum → General Settings → Enable Likes System), logged-in-users will be able to Like posts by other logged-in-users. For example, if someone makes a interesting post, other users may hit the Like button to show their appreciation. The Like will be associated to the post author and the post.
Likes Received and Likes Given can be displayed on the user profile page if you set the Forum configuration setting Display User's likes received and given on User Profile to True. Likes are an excellent way to allow user’s to show their appreciation and may help motivate your users to make better posts to gain additional likes.
Community moderation is a concept / feature set that allows your forum users to help moderate your forums. Each forum has a view rating and a post rating. These are the minimum ratings a user must 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.
Example of how Community Moderation could be used
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 regarding 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 not 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 wonderful 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 can 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.
Badges can be used to identify members of your site. Badges are associated to the glFusion group a user is a member of…For example, you might have a Badge for members of the Non-Logged-In-Users group, which would denote they are a guest user. Another Badge for members of the Logged-in-Users group to denote they are site members.
Badges can be custom graphic images or text based (styled to look like buttons). Badges are administered in the Command & Control → Forum → Badges area. Badges can be associated to a Badge Group. If a badge is a member of a Badge Group, only one badge from that group will be displayed in the user's profile area of the forum post. The first badge that matches the user's group membership will be used.
If a badge is not a member of a Badge Group, then all badges that match the user's group membership will be used.
You can have multiple Badge Groups, which allows multiple badges to be displayed.
Ranks are used to show a user's activity in the forums. Ranks only apply to registered members, not to anonymous users.
The more a user posts, the higher the rank they will earn.
Forum / Site Administrators can setup the various ranks and the post threshold for each one. You can customize the name to match the theme of your site. For example, if you have a Online Clan site - you might choose rank names such as Recruit for low number of posts, Private for a small number of posts, etc.
To create / modify the ranks - select the Ranks option from the Forum Administration menu. You can set the name of the rank and the number of posts required to reach that rank.
Managing / Moderating Posts
Selecting option from the Forum Administration 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 Moderation Menu in the lower right hand corner of each post.
- Edit Post
- Delete Post
- Ban IP
- Move Topic
- Merge Topic
- Split Topic
- Lock Topic
A moderator can edit any post. You have the option to select whether the edit is silent (meaning no indication that the post has been edited) or if the 'Last Edited' time will be displayed on the post. Generally a moderator will edit a post to fix spelling issues, correct a link or remove inappropriate content. It is not recommended to alter the overall intent or essence of the post without the users knowledge or permission.
A moderator can delete a specific post by selecting the Delete Post option from the moderation menu. The post will be removed and cannot be recovered once deleted.
There may be times where a user (generally an anonymous user) makes inappropriate posts. You can ban the IP of that user from making any further posts. This does not ban them from the site, it only removes their ability to post to the forums.
Move Topic is only available on the first, parent post of a group. Moving a Topic allows you to place the topic and all replies into another forum. Generally used when a user accidentally chooses the wrong forum for their post.
Merge Topic is only available on the first parent post of a group. Merging a topic allows you to merge the initial post and all replies into another topic (which can be in the same forum or a different forum).
Prevent any future replies to this entire topic - making it read only.
Spliting a topic allows you to take a single post or all posts from this point forward and move it to a new forum. For example, a long discussion on a topic might stray off-topic at some point. You may wish to split the topic into another post to help keep the original discussion on topic and still allow
Post Editor Configuration
The Forum plugin supports using standard BBCode editor or a HTML based WYSIWYG editor.
Out of the box, glFusion's Forum Plugin is configured to use the BBCode editor.
The BBcode editor has a toolbar to assist users in formatting the text. Selecting the formatting feature in the toolbar will automatically insert the corresponding BBcode into the editor window.
glFusion's Forum Plugin supports the following BBcode formatting options:
|[b]bolded text[/b]||bolded text|
|[i]italicized text[/i]||italicized text|
|[u]underlined text[/u]||underlined text|
[img h=32 w=45]http://www.glfusion.org/images/help.png[/img]
|The [img] tag can be disabled in the Forum Configuration page|
|[quote]quoted text[/quote]||<blockquote>quoted text</blockquote>|
|[size=16]Your Text[/size]||Your Text|
|[color=red]Red Text[/color] |
|<span class=“uk-text-danger”>colored text</span>|
[*]List item 1
[*]List item 2
|* Item 1 |
* Item 2
* Item 3
[*]List item 1
[*]List item 2
|1. List Item 1 |
2. List Item 2
Talk about how to setup the forums to use WYSIWYG editor By default, the glFusion Forum plugin uses a simple BBcode editor. You can setup your forums 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.
Earlier we mentioned that the BBCode Editor provided a slight security advantage to utilizing HTML. glFusion has a very robust HTML filter to help ensure only safe and valid HTML is allowed so there is very little concern over allowing HTML as the standard markup language for entering forum posts.
Converting Stories to Forum Posts
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.
Replacing the Site’s 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
Talk about user features and how they work. How a user can create posts, view summaries, edit posts, etc. Maybe provide an overview of how the user interface looks.
Creating a Post or Replying to a Post
If a user has the proper permissions, they can select the New Topic button to create a new topic in the forum. Or select the Post Reply button to reply to an existing topic.
Both New Topic and Post Reply will bring up the forum post editor. The editor has several options for the user to fine tune how their post will be displayed:
If enabled, a user can select their current mood. If they are excited about the topic - they might select the excited mood. Moods are simple icons that display below the user's profile picture on the forum post.
Under options, the user can check the box to be notified of any future replies to the forum topic. They will receive an email each time someone replies to the topic.
Features control how the forum post is displayed.
Disable BBCode will disable interpreting the BBCodes and display the actual codes.
Disable Smilies will disable the replacement of the ASCII text with a graphic image for smiley codes
Do Not Parse URLs disables the automatic URL link creation.
Attaching Files to Posts
If the forum has been configured to allow file attachments, there are several options to allow the user to display the attached file.
You can embed an image that will display inline in a forum post by using the following syntax:
where 1 denotes which attachment to use. You can also make that image appear in a lightbox by specifying:
Editing a Post (If Enabled)
If the Forum Plugin has been configured to allow users to edit a post, the user will see an Edit option in the footer of the post.
When a user edits a post, glFusion will automatically place a
Last Edited on date footer on the post to denote it has been edited.
NOTE: Admins and Moderators have the option to perform a Silent Edit - this means the Last Edited footer will not be displayed.
Subscribing to a Thread
When a user creates a new post or a reply, they have the option to select the Notify Me of Replies option. If they check this box, they will receive an email each time a post to this topic is made.
User's can also Subscribe to any topic in the forum by selecting the
Subscribe button at the top left of every topic header. They can unsubscribe at any time by selecting the
User's can subscribe to an entire forum, where they will receive an email notification anytime a new post or reply is made to any topic in the forum. When viewing the Forum topic list - the user can select the
Cog button and select Track This Forum. They can Un-subscribe at any time by selecting the same
Cog icon and selecting Stop Tracking Forum.
A user can manage their Subscriptions in the My Account → Subscriptions tab. This will show all current subscriptions with the ability to unsubscribe to any or all of them.
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 remove a bookmark, simply click on the star icon again.
Forum preferences are set in the
My Account → Account Settings screen, under the Forum Preferences tab.
You can set the following user preferences to control how the forums are displayed:
- Topics Per Page
- Number of topics to display when viewing the forum index.
- Posts Per Page
- Number of posts to show per page.
- View Anonymous Posts
- Hide posts from anonymous users.
- Notify Once Only
- Enable auto notifications.
- Include full post in notification
- Only send one notification.
- Show Topic Review
- Show topic review (iframe) at bottom when replying.
- Topic Order
- Display topics in ascending or descending date order
Creating a Signature
My Account → About You section of the user profile page, a user can create a custom forum signature, including special formatting using BBCode.
The signature will be included as the footer of each post they make.