Setting up your first forum.
After you have been a member, or even moderated a forum; you perhaps feel it necessary to get your own forum up and running, and create a community. Forums are a great way of meeting people, and talking to people as yourself. You can gain knowledge over the subject you choose, as it draws many different types of people in. Students to Professors join forums to share, and absorb opinions and factual information.
Once you have decided to create a forum, think what do I want this forum to be about, perhaps it is about a game, a band, or gardening, you have to choose one catagory, and idealistically only one. There are very few open topic forums, and the ones there are; are only successful because there is few of them. You simply will not pull members into joining this type of forum.
Lets get moving
First thing is first; have a look at other forums on the subject, and on others to see if you can “gain ideas” from their forums, say a particular category, or a nicely designed forum. Something like that. Get a piece of paper, and jot down all of your ideas for names, logos, and forum layout. Once you have done this a few times, you will have a really good idea where to begin.
Since starting a forum is often a precarious task, it is best not to waste any money financing a forum that will never get off the ground. Personally, I would use invisionfree hosting. They are a free forum hosting service, that allows you use of an invision power board V1.3 for nothing; in my opinion Invision Power Boards are the best. Easiest to use, looks the best, and gives a professional image. Here is invisionfree’s website: http://invisionfree.com/ The reason why I recommend free hosting is that you can build a community at no cost, and spend as long as you like launching the board, not wasting money on servers, and buying forum software. First thing is first, click the “register link”, you need to think of a URL extension that will be suitable. Try and use abbreviations, for example: if you were to request the name of “The forum society” or something like that, use the URL Extention “TFS”, as it is shorter for members to remember before they bookmark your page.
The second thing to think of after creating your board is security. You have the first account, which is always an administrator account. Set the name to “Root Administrator”, and a password different to all others. Write it down at home so you remember it, I doubt a member shall be visiting your house so it is mist safe. Choose a password such as “cH83kLlL93jdka5”. Totally unguessable, and impossible to crack. Create another account that will be used for posting, and normal administrative duties, and create another admin group (non root) and place your username under this group. It will allow you to do everything you need to do without compromising security.
Starting to get things looking like a professional forum.
Now, what we need to do is create some catagories and forums. All you have to do is follow your plan that you made first. Make sure you do not have too many at first, remember, you can expand when people start to post frequently. Make sure everything is not top heavy (too many forums in one category). Go to invisionfree skin zone and seek out a CSS skin for the forum. Make sure it has a matching button set for a professional look. Don’t worry if you don’t have somewhere to upload them, as I will come onto that in a second. Have a look for something that looks good. Don’t let it be too fancy, or too bright. Relaxing turquoises are always hits. Follow the instructions, and get the buttons. Upload them into the “user ranks and pips” uploader, and copy and paste the URL to the buttons into the right image slot, and you’re done. A professional forum. Nearly. You need a banner! If you are good with photoshop, have a go, but it is always best asking someone you know who is a whizz with it to do one with you. Ask them to make sure it ties in with the skin, and get them to do some banner templates for you too.
The little big things:
All forums need rules, and you and the moderators need to stick to them. Here are some which are versatile:
While using this forum, you must display a good standard of knowledge and common sense to achieve your goals, and posting purpose. Please adhere to all rules stated below, or warnings may be given. These warnings and our system will be displayed, and explained later in this text. This text acts as the law of this forum.
Usernames & Registration
1. You shall provide an accurate and correct email address on registration. Only administratos have access to these. In addition, all information you choose to give in your public profile shall be accurate, and updated regurlarly.
2. You may only have one username, and once account active at a time. You may not operate under different alialses at any time.
3. You may not impersonate any person in the community, or world.
4. You will not impersonate a member of staff, or staff member in the community.
Topis & Posting
1. You will use English on this forum. Any langauge in topics, posts, polls, or personal messenger is strictly prohibited.
2. Foul language shall not be tolerated. It is not permitted to rely on the world filter.
3. Defamitory, hateful, or distressing posts are strictly prohibited.
4. Posting a thread addressing an individual in any contect is prohibited.
5. Trolling is prohibited.
6. Flaming is prohibited.
7. Multiple topics on the same subject, multiple posting, and spamming is strictly prohibited.
8. Racist, sexist, or any discriminating comments are not to be made on this forum.
9. You MUST report all posts that break the rules, via the report button on the message frame.
10. Retalitory remarks and arguing with another member is strictly banned, and you will have the same action taken as the provokee/arguer.
Images & Signatures
1. Signature images may not contain an image of objectional, or illegal content.
2. Signature images may not be bigger than 500X300 pixels, and no more than three images of all sizes.
3. Text and writing may not target anyone/thing/group in a negetive, harrassing way, and may not contain more than three lines in a large font.
The "red" staff members are called Administrators, They manage information regarding member's personal information and act as "President" of the forum. The administrator who is "root", or "Member Number 1" acts as head of the forum, and is responsible for content within. That person controls all registrees, and has final say on all matters within the forum. You agreed on registration that you would abide by the administrator's decisions, although agreement with them is left at your dissgression.
The Administrators have the final say on everything.
The staff members with "green" usernames, are Global Moderators, and can moderate ALL forums. They act under instruction from administrating personell, and may: lock, move, rename, split, merge, or bump any topic they see good reason for doing so. They may also use their perception, and judgement to: ban, suspend, moderate, warn, any member they see needing this attention. They may suspend for as long as they see fit, and you will respect their decisions, you will recieve an explaination, and reserve the right to demand on if one is not given. Please target the staff member who carried out the action.
Action taken by administrators, and global moderators:
Locking a Topic: Topics will be locked when further discussion is not needed, or when there is an argument, and the content is not hugely vulgar. Vulgar posts will be edited or deleted.
Deletion of a/post: This will take place when a post is not appropriate in any way.
Spliting Posts: One post is seperated to create a new topic - this wil happen if a good topic is hijacked by a valid and appropriate topic, but discussions lead in seperate ways.
Merging Posts: this will happen when two posts of similar content run in paralell, and are combined into one topic.
If you direct your eyes to a green, and read bar, with 5 squares on it. You will see your username bar to the left of all your posts, whilst logged in; and also in your profile. All warnings will take place via this bar, and you will see a number which should read 0% at the moment; if you click this hyperlink, and box should appear. Once you have been warned, the administrator/global moderator who warned you, will leave notes on what action has been taken, the name of the user who warned you, and why.
Warn with no action: this shall occur when a "petty violation" is made, such as ignoring requests by staff for removal of a large signature etcetera. You will see the warn level increase, yet no action against your account permissions will be made.
Post right removal: This will take place when you have not followed guidelines to a severe level. It will have effect for either a few hours, days, or indefinately - staff member's disgression.
Post Moderation: This happens when you cannot be trusted to post decent, or applicable content. Moderators will decide which of the posts you make are viable to accept onto the board, and will delete those that are not. Time scales are as with "post right removal".
Account suspension: Your account will be disabled for a set amount of time when the staff decide that you need a complete "break" from the forum. This is one level down from an outright ban.
All of these options are reversable.
The below options can be recommended by Global Moderators with reasonable ground, but these will be expedited bu administratos only.
Username deletion: Your account, and all traces of your presence on the forum will be deleted.
IP ban: This is for the most serious offences. Law breaking, or consistant rule breaking. Your computer will be banned from the forum all together. No access is available at all.
WE MUST REMIND YOU, THAT IF WE FEEL IT NEEDED, WE WILL CONTACT YOUR ISP, AND RECOMMEND YOUR INTERNET IS REMOVED
You may appose any action taken towards you, or anyone else. Contact a red username only. Please include your account on what happened, and a URL to the post, or evidence. It will be the administrator's desgression whether to back, or disagree with you, and you will respect this decision.
Posting Advice and Tips
1. When posting, make sure it is in the correct forum, and has appropriate detail, and content.
2. When replying, think of an appropriate response, do not respond because you can, respond when you have something worth saying. Make sure everything is readable, and makes sense before clicking the reply button.
3. Read all sticky topics, they usually have important information in them.
4. If you find yourself in a bad situation, leave your posts alone, do not edit them, report the topic.
5. Do not diffuse situations yourselves, report the problem, and let our staff handle them.
6. Treat people how you would like to be treated.
7. When posting, be polite, a polite post will get more results, especially when you are requesting something.
Easy. For you, and your moderators you may not be familiar with the IPB moderating system, here are some documents that may help you.
These are situated below a thread. Enter the thread, and look at the bottom, these are in the drop down box.
Basic Post Controls
Move this topic - Move the topic to another forum.
Close this topic - Lock the topic, making it impossible to post in.
Delete this topic - Deleting the topic from the server.
Edit this topic - Editing the topics title, and description
Pin this topic - Putting the topic in the top box of the forum.
Merge this topic - Merging one topic to another.
Spit Topic - Ending the topic at one post, and starting a new post with the proceeding posts.
(available only on V2.0+)
Make Topic Visible - Make topic visible to everyone
Make Topic Invisible - Make topic invisible to everyone, bar Global moderators and administrators.
(IPB V2.0 + only)
Main Forum View Checkboxes
Accessable at the top of the page by your log in, log out button.
Its main service is to provide the same functions as above, so I don't need to go into that really.
Just select all the topic you want locking, moving, deleting ect. By pressing the link into a particular forum, and highlighting the square boxes to the far right of the page, and using the drop down box underneath. This is only used for mass locking... You can use it if you want, but I have only ever used it in an administrative function before.
Allowing posts onto the board.
Sometimes it is neccersary to put a member onto report, what this is, is that all posts, topics, and polls made by the username, have to be checked by one of you.
When there is a post or topic in the system, look on the main forum view, and you will see the number of posts that need managing, select which forum you want, check the posts, then you just read the post, and press move, delete, or accept. then press go, and the post will go public (if it is unacceptable just delete it straight off).
If you press manage members this enables you to edit the users profile, it is all self explanatory.
To allow it, just use the moderation option "Make Post Visible", you can also make posts/topics invisible if you need an officer to check it over.
Warning, and banning members.
To ban, warn, or Ban, and Warn, find the poster, either on the forum page, or through their profile, and look for their warn bar. The press the plus symbol, and you are brought to this page-
Fill in the information as needed, and the options for the ban.
Enforce moderator preview of all new posts - Puts the member on report, all posts previewed by staff, before they go public.
Disable this members posting ability - Member unable to post in any way.
Suspend member's account - Makes their account useless. This is a Ban.
You must file a report, and anything above 40%, you must also PM them.
Moderator Tools Within the Control Panel
If you want to view moderator tools you first need to login, then click on My Controls, then your control panel shows up. After Options you will see Moderator Tools like IP Address Look-Up Tool Member Look-Up Tool, Manage Announcements.
IP Address Look-up Tools
When you click on IP Address Look-up Tools it will come up a text box it will say Enter IP Address so type in a IP Address like this 123.45.678.900 please don't used this one. After you type your IP Address click Run Tool. Notice you will see The host name for 123.45.678.900 is 10-server.name.location.domain.net
If you want to Add A Announements click on Manage Announements in your controls panel, then at the bottom click Add Announements, then next page will show up with all those text boxes, type in the Announements Tittle called it anything like New Software Came Out, Type in start date 09-12-22 and end date 11-24-24 please don't used this one to, type in your Announements Contact like Hello Members something like that, And make sure you pick a Active Forum thing to you may pick more then one in Active Forum box make sure you highlight it. After thats done you can enable html if you want. Then click on Add Announements! Then users on the board can see the Announements in the active topic.
Member Look-Up Tool
This Member Look-Up Tool is easy to used. Goto your my controls then click on Member Look-Up Tools, type any username as you wish to then click on Find User and was that easy.
That should help you with that.
You can read other tutorials regarding transferring to other forums, and gaining members now your forum us set up; IF support SQL transfers at a tiny price, so you wont loose posts, and members.