Postings on the forum are individual messages written by your fellow Apprentices and Instructors. These messages are arranged into topics, which are also called threads. A list of topics make up a Forum, but a Forum can also hold one or more Forums within it. For example, starting from the main School Forums index page, The Grey School of Wizardry Forum Index, the Offices subsection includes the subsection for the Department Dean Offices. The Department Dean Offices is a category containing 16 individual forums, one for each of the departments of study. Each of these 16 forums contains many different topic threads.
Buttons to create a “New Topic” or to “Post Reply” are found on some but not all pages within the School Forums. If the page currently shows the messages in a topic, then there will probably be both a New Topic and a Post Reply button at both the top and bottom of the page. If the page currently shows the topic list in the current Forum, there will be a New Topic button at the top and bottom of the page.
Both of these buttons open up an editor for composing your forum post. The forum editor is very different from the Essay editor in which class work is done. Forum posts can use BBCode to do simple formatting, such as creating bold or italic text.
The main areas of the Forum Editor are as follows:
• Subject – If this posting is for a new topic, the text typed here will be the title of the topic. If this posting is a reply, text typed here will display as a Subject header within the individual message.
• Message Icons – An icon chosen here will be displayed next to the topic title in the topic index if it is the first message in a new topic, or the icon will show in the header within the individual message when read as a reply in an existing topic.
• Message body – Enter your message as text. Use BBCode commands to format your text.
• Emoticons – Click an emoticon and the BBCode for that Smiley face will appear in your Message body.
• Options – The options are a short list which says, “HTML is OFF / BBCode is ON / Smilies are ON.” The underlined word BBCode is a link to a short FAQ about using BBCode with many examples.
Another way to start a reply in an existing topic is to click the “Quote” button at the bottom of a message within the topic. This will automatically insert the appropriate BBCode into the Message text area to quote a specific author's message from earlier in the topic.
Once your message is composed, click the Preview button to ensure it looks as you expect it to look. When you are happy with the message content, click on the Submit button to post the message.
The Quick Reply Form
At the end of a topic is the Quick Reply form. Although many of the tool buttons to automatically insert BBCode formatting commands are not visible, the text area of the Quick Reply form can accept the same BBCode commands as the full forum editor. Several buttons below the Quick Reply text area allow access to choosing a Message Icon and Smilies. The “Quote Selected” button works as follows: Highlight some text in any message in the topic, then click on the “Quote Selected” button. The highlighted text along with the appropriate BBCode for quoting are inserted into the Quick Reply message text area. This is very useful when you only want to quote a small part of a much longer posting. Using the Preview button on the Quick Reply form not only previews the message but also continues editing the message with the full featured forum editor.
A common mistake is to write up a long response in the Quick Reply box and then to immediately click the “Post Reply” button which is outside of the Quick Reply area. This starts a brand new reply and everything typed into the Quick Reply box can only be recovered if you immediately use your browser's “Back” button. After typing a Quick Reply, use the Submit button to post your message!
Before you Post a New Topic
Consider where your post really belongs. To post in the “General Chatter” area, topics need to be age appropriate, must relate in some way to magick, and be of general interest. If the topic you want to start is personal in nature, post it to your House or Lodge. If the topic is very specific to one of the 16 departments, post it in the appropriate Department Office.
Do a search to find out if there is already a topic related to what you want to post. Replying to existing topics with topical information helps keep subject matter focused.
When posting a new topic, please use a clear and specific topic header. Naming your topic “question” or “foo” is not recommended, but instead topic names like “Question about charging water under moonlight” or “Nicola Tesla-Forgotten Wizard” make for a very focused discussion.