What is a forum?
Essentially, a forum is an online meeting place for discussion. It takes the form of a message board where U3A members can converse through posting and replying to messages. All forums currently are fully visible, but only registered members may post or comment in the forum. Members can create a topic for discussion, ask questions or put forward a point of view to which others can respond [subject of course to Forum Rules!]
Topics. Members may set new topics to invite discussion – in Birdwatching, this may be to do with a given RSPB site, a rare sighting, or simply discussion about future visit opportunities; in Scams, new topics can be introduced for new scams appearing locally. But equally, and existing topic can be added to, either by direct answer, or simply by discussing the question.
Questions. For an interest group forum, if lots of members ask the same questions multiple times, then answering them can be a time-consuming process. The forum provides the perfect way to deal with such questions. The group leader can create a topic for that question on the group forum and then provide the answer. This way, when members ask again, you can point them to the forum and save yourself the time of dealing with each query individually. If there are questions you may not have thought of, members can ask them on the forum and you can supply the answers when they appear.
Advice and help. One of the great things about forums is that members will often help each other out. You’ll always find expert members who are inclined to offer advice to others and take a leading role in solving other members’ problems.
*** Please always respond to a topic/question/advice note if it is present, and do not create a separate topic with a reply.***
All postings to a forum must abide by Minehead & District U3A’s Social Media Policy.
How it works
Clicking on the Forum tab on the main menu will bring up the main Forums page, introducing the Forums and listing all that are currently available. The text reads:
Please feel free to browse the posts in the various forums. This set of forums has been created so that members can post a question or an observation – and any other member who has a solution or can direct the enquirer to a source of information may respond with the detail; members can also post comments on specific forums, e.g. to post a book review – or at least reactions to reading a title.
If you want to add a new topic, or reply to an existing topic, then you will need to be a Registered User, and you will need to Log In.
You can then select any of the available Forums. The example followed here is for Birdwatching Forum.
The specific forum
You can select a specific forum (e.g. Birdwatching) from the main menu, or from an Interest Group’s pages (in which case you will come direct to the specific forum, and skip the main Forums page). The specific forum display will show all the topics that have been posted, counting voices (i.e. people posting on the topic) and posts. The topics are displayed in reverse chronological order – most recent first. Click on a topic to see the posts included.
The Topic display shows all of the comments or questions that have been posted, giving precise date and time. Note that the comments are displayed in Chronological order – oldest first. The poster is identified – and if your registration includes a photo or an avatar, that is displayed.
Adding a reply
At the bottom of the posts, there is a box to allow you to log in to add your own observations – remember that you must be registered. If you intend to remain on the site and use you identity elsewhere, there is a checkbox to keep you signed in (and so not require you to log in again).
Once you are logged in you can enter your comment in the box provided.
There are some editing options on the toolbar:
These allow (left to right) (and the meaning will be reinforced if you hover your mouse over the button):
Bold – ABC
Italic – ABC
Blockquote – This can be used to indicate the quotation of a large section of text from another source. Using the default styling of most web browsers, it will indent the right and left margins both on the display and in printed form.
Insert a link (including a hyperlink to an external resource on the Web)
Insert an image
You can also add a tag to the Tags box below the comment box. The Tags box shows the tags currently applied to the topic overall – not just individual posts. If adding a tag, separate it from the previous ones by a comma.
Notification checkbox. If you are asking a question or adding a comment which you expect to receive further replies, then you can tick the checkbox ‘Notify me of replies via email’ – and you will receive emails of all responses.
When you are finished, click ‘Submit‘ to post your comment or question.
Adding a topic
If you need to create a new topic, this is an option at the bottom of the list of topics.
At the bottom of the topics, there is a box to allow you to log in to add the new topic – remember that you must be registered. If you intend to remain on the site and use you identity elsewhere, there is a checkbox to keep you signed in (and so not require you to log in again).
Once you are logged in you can enter add a title for the topic and some explanation in the boxes provided. The formatting, tagging, notification and Submit options are the same as for ‘Adding a reply’ above.