This is very much a work in progress, subject to the capricious winds of my own time and motivation. Feel free to add to or edit this as you see fit.
Q: What is a forum?
A: [Stupid question that I don't feel inspired enough to write an answer for yet. Probably some jazz explaining the differences between a forum and a blog or a wiki, or a Facebook page.]
Q: Why create a forum with
A: Thanks to AJAX technology, forums created with
update in real time, so you'll never have to keep hitting F5 to refresh a page. This combines the flexibility and power of a traditional message board with the immediacy of a chat or IM, which can be a huge advantage in many situations, like in very active topics or forum games. Other nice things about
include its speed, simplicity, security, and stability, and while the board software remains in beta stage, any bugs or glitches will be fixed shortly after you report them on the
Q: Does it cost anything?
is currently free of charge - it doesn't cost anything to start new forums, and you don't have to pay a fee for hosting existing ones. Groovy!
Q: Do I need advanced programming or Web design skills to start or operate a
A: Not at all, although knowing a thing or to about Web design isn't a bad thing, especially if you're creating custom skins.
Q: How do I create a forum?
A: Simply visit the
and fill out the fields in the upper-right corner of the screen. Just pick your user name, select the name of your forum, and enter your e-mail address and password and you're good to go!
Q: What are some things I might want to do now that I've created a forum?
A: Here are a few things most people will do when they first start a forum:
* Spiff up your own profile page by adding an avatar, signature, etc. from the User Control Panel.
* Give your board a cool logo (look under Settings > Global Settings).
* Create some new categories, forums, and subforums.
* Add some new skins, or create your own to give your board a more distinctive appearance.
* Create some new member groups if you'd like, and tweak user rights under Groups > Edit Permissions.
* Set up the Word Filter so members who don't like that kind of @#$% aren't forced to put up with it.
* And last but certainly not least, invite people who would be interested to join your community!
Explaining some of the settings under the Admin Control Panel (very incomplete)
The front screen of the ACP shows the most recent news regarding the
software, keeping you up-to-date on the latest new features and bug fixes.
* Global Settings allows you to change - Board name, logo URL, and offline message
* Shoutbox: This does a bunch of different things related to the shoutbox. This allows you to change the number of shouts displayed at a time, enable or disable shoutbox avatars (disabled by default), or hide the shoutbox for all members. This is also where you go if you want to permanently delete all shouts on your forum - an option that should be used with extreme caution, for obvious reasons.
* Custom Pages: Create, edit, or view special pages you've created. These pages are similar to regular topics, except only admins can make them and no one can reply to them. They also have their own special name, and you can use both BBCode and HTML in them. Such pages are good for rules pages, member bios, and lots of other things.
* Birthdays: This toggles whether or not to display a special cake icon next to the names of members celebrating an upcoming birthday. JaxBoards forums do not force members to list their birthdays on their profiles, so the birthday icon obviously won't appear next to members who have not provided their birthdates.
* Domain Setup
* Word Filter: This allows you to add words to the swear filter, which converts offensive words to whatever more benign option the administrator chooses (usually something along the lines of s*** or @#$%). At the present time, the word filter is case-insensitive and doesn't have an option for "strict" or "loose" filtering like IPB does - for example, on some forums, a regular word that contains an often-censored word may be mangled ("Yoshitennis" could become "Yo****ennis"). Individual members have the option of disabling the filter by toggling an option in the User CP.
* Post Rating:
* Edit Members: This allows administrators to input member names to view certain registration and User CP information, including members' e-mail addresses and avatars.
* Pre-Register: This option allows admins create a new account for a new member. You'll obviously have the contact whoever you registered and tell him or her the password you assigned. While this option is rarely used, some forum administrators prefer to disable standard public registration and instead require new members to be registered by the administrators. This could be useful if you've had problems with spambots or other troublemakers, but keep in mind that doing so may make visitors significantly less likely to join.
* Account Merge: This allows you to merge two accounts together. This is usually used to merge duplicate accounts (whether created intentionally or by accident), although you can also use this feature to delete spambot accounts by merging these accounts into your own.
* Mass Message
* IP Bans: Use this to ban a particular IP address. This feature is usually used to make it harder for particularly irksome spambots or banned members from coming back with a new account, but it can also be used for other reasons, such as to prevent the use of a particular proxy. IP bans should be used with caution. If you ban a large number of IPs, especially large ranges, you may prevent perfectly legitimate members from posting, and it's also worth remembering that IP bans can't prevent someone from making a new account using someone else's Internet connection, and they won't do you any good when dynamic IP addresses are involved.
* Validation: This feature allows you to prevent newly-registered members from having full member privileges until you manually approve them. If this feature is disabled, all new registrations become regular members immediately. Regardless of what you select, registrations with suspected spammer IPs are automatically placed in the validation queue.
* Edit Permissions
* Create Group
* Delete Group
* Manage Skin(s)
* Create Skin
* Create Forum
* Create Category: Use this to create a new forum category available for the Manage Forums feature.
* Refresh Statistics:
occasionally glitches up the number of posts and topics indicated at the bottom of your forum's main page, so click this to get an updated, accurate reading. This also fixes glitches that may occur when you split, merge, or delete posts from threads.
* File Manager:
allows members (if permitted) to attach files to their posts, which can be a useful. File Manager allows you to view every file attached on
* Backup Forum: Use this to download a backup of your forum to your computer's hard drive. While there currently isn't a way admins can restore backups manually, Sean can restore from a backup if you send the file to him. This feature backs up all posts and most Admin CP information, but it doesn't back up attached files. Backup files should be just a few megabytes in size unless your forum is very large.
* Under construction
Tips for starting/growing a new board
* Find a purpose or a niche.
does a good job of explaining this in much greater depth, but if you want your forum to grow, try to find a purpose for it. Even if your board is just a few friends hanging out, it's easier to attract new members when you have some kind of purpose or focus, even if it's something as simple as an online game or a ongoing comic someone is making.
* Don't create too many forums at first. Usually it makes more sense to have one or two general discussion boards instead of separate forums for discussing music, video games, politics, food, or whatnot (unless, of course, your forum specializes in one of these things). Typically it's more appealing to new members to have a few active forums than 20 forums with one or two topics each. If your forum grows, you can add more forums as necessary.
* Don't promote too many people to administrator or moderator. I've seen way too many new forums with barely any posts that have a dozen or more staff members - and often the greater number of those are inactive. Not only can this look like a "LET'S MAKE ALL MY FRIENDS ADMIN" circlejerk, it's also more likely to cause problems as time goes on. While my forum might be a little extreme (one administrator and one global moderator), use common sense here.
* Similarly, be careful who you make admin. Bad administration/moderation can drive away members in no time at all, and a rogue administrator can cause all sorts of problems, like when an admin decides to delete all the posts on your board. Think it can't happen to you? Well, that particular problem once happened on this very forum, so think again, and don't promote anyone you have any reservations about.
* Be careful how you promote your forum on
Facebook. If you have a general-purpose forum and a lot of friends, Facebook might be a good way to advertise your board. On the other hand, there's no guarantee how many of your real-life buddies will be interested in joining a niche forum like your Alfred the Chicken Fangames Galaxy or your Mormon Anarchists Union, and some people post stuff on forums that they wouldn't want directly connected to their real-world persona. Most importantly, a Facebook fan page can divert activity away from your actual forum - which is dumb because Facebook is a poor substitute for a real forum.
Other things to write
* Mod CP features
* User CP features
(somewhat out of date but still a valuable resource for information on meta tags.
* CSS guides:
This is used for checking the syntaxes of your skins and wrappers, ensuring that they're free of errors.
, Nov 9th, 2011 @ 9:58 pm