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Forums Administration Guide

About Forums

One of the things that makes Movable Type a great platform for user forums is based upon the fact that the usage pattern associated with forums is nearly identical to that of blogs. The chief difference between the two being who is permitted to start a topic or conversation.

  • In a blog only the author is capable of starting a discussion. They log into a publishing application, create a post, and that post appears on the front door of their blog. Then their readers comment.
  • In a forum any reader is capable of starting a discussion. They login to the forum, click a button to “Create a Discussion” (or something similar) and their topic appears immediately in the forum of a given subject.

But blogs have taught us a lot about how to make community successful and how to dramatically increase user engagement. Therefore Movable Type’s forum solution allows use to get the best of both worlds:

  • to create an environment users intuitive know how to contribute content to
  • to construct that environment in such a way that encourages user engagement with the content by surfacing more prominently and providing a number of different ways for users to provide feedback into the system.

Terminology

Movable Type, while originally designed as a blogging platform, is capable of publishing sites of all sorts, including forums. Applications like forums however can often use different terminology or nomenclature when referring to the same thing. This can lead to confusion for some, but the lexicon below should help resolve any confusion.

  • Forum Group - A forum group, analogous to a “Category” in Movable Type, serves as a logical container for the forums your system will contain
  • Forum - A forum is a container for the discussions pertaining to a specific subject matter.
  • Topic - A topic is an entry or post that has been created by one of your readers. Topics that share the same subject are grouped together in a forum.
  • Reply - A reply is a comment attached to a topic.

Forum Setup

To create a forum the first thing you need to do is to create a blog using the “Forum” template set. Doing so will create a “blog” with a set of templates that will render a web site that looks, feels and behaves in all of the ways a forum should.

Before you begin using the Movable Type Community Solution powered forums, it is recommended you take these first initial steps.

  1. Give new users permission to create entries or topics.
  2. Turn on local authentication and registration.
  3. Create Forums Categories.
  4. Turn off Rich Text Editing as your default.
  5. Make sure comments are accepted by default.

Forum Configuration

Generally speaking the process of configuring a Movable Type Community Solution powered forum is the same as configuring a Movable Type powered blog. That is because it utilizes virtually all of the same features to publish a forum as it does a blog.

Listed below are some of the most common configuration tasks associated with forums and an explanation of how that task can be accomplished.

Moderating topics before they are published

All new topics will utilize the defaults for New Entries for their default values. Therefore, if you wish to set all new topics to a state of “unpublished” until such time as an editor can review the content and publish it manually, then set the “Default Publish Status” to “Unpublished.”

Setting New Topic Preferences

All new topics will utilize the defaults for New Entries for their default values. Therefore you are able to control the default values for the following settings can be controlled by editing the preferences for “Entries” found on the Preferences > Blog Settings menu.

Please note: The rich text editor is not supported out of the box for use within forums.

Setting Reply Preferences

Setting your preferences for replies to topics in your forums is the same as setting your Comment Preferences for a blog. Therefore navigate to the “Blog Settings” under the “Preferences” menu. From there select “Comments” in the left hand menu.

Categories and Sub-Categories

The Forum Template Set is designed to work with only two levels of categories:

  • A set of top level categories called “Forum Groups”
  • A set of child categories for each top level category or forum group called “Forums”

Forums contain the actual discussions your users will engage in. Forum Groups are intended to group forums into logic buckets.

Due to this structure, third level categories and beyond are not supported by the default Forum template set, although this logic is totally customizable.

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1 Comment

Elephants in Oakland

Elephants in Oakland on June 28, 2008, 8:29 a.m. Reply

Is it that hard to use Captivate and create some demos or eLearning segments for this? Can there at least be an image associated or an example of what you attempting to describe?

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