The New Opera Community Forums -- The Definitive Guide
Sunday, November 13, 2005 5:04:31 PM
While we are proud of our new forum software, we do understand that it can be relatively difficult to understand. We know that some of this is attributed to features hidden or not properly explained in the user interface. We are working to resolve this, however Opera Software is an extremely busy place to work in at the moment, and I hope you can understand that bugfixing My Opera sometimes have lower priority than other mountains of work. However, please do continue making suggestions and bug reports in the feedback forum!
I will in this blog post try to explain how some of the new forum features work (or are supposed to work ).
As you most probably have already noticed, the new Community has a group feature. Groups are small sub-communities anyone can establish. Each group has its own blog, photo album, links page, etc, however perhaps most importantly; each group can have its own forums with unlimited subforums. Needless to say, we hope that some of these will thrive and become large communities in their own right, and we certainly encourage groups and discussions not directly related to the Opera browser.
Now, within each group's forums, there is a special forum submenu, just below the group's regular menu. It contains some functionality which applies to the group's forum. The menu contains entries like "My Settings", "My Subscriptions", "Unread Posts", etc. All of these, except "My Settings" which are community-global forum settings, are specific for the current group's forum. Also the group's search engine is specific for that group's forum.
Each group's moderator can control whether the group's forums are members-only, or an all-access area.
To be able to easier recognise that you are in fact visiting a group, the design and menus change from those of the main community site. To go from a group back to the main community, click the link which says "Opera Community" usually located at the very top of the page.
The Special /community/ Forums
The forums which deal with Opera as a company and its products and services, are located on the main community site, not in a group. This forum also has a forum submenu and search engine which is similar to the equivalent functions within groups. However, that is not all there is to it.
The main community's forums will also include all groups which you are a member of. By default, this means The Lounge. In other words, when you list the unread posts in the main community forums, it will list unread posts in the main Opera-related forums along with unread posts from the Lounge forums.
So if you are particularly interested in or participated active in a group's discussions, make sure you are a member of the group, and it will aggregate into the main community forums. Or you can access the forums specifically via it's group.
Conversely, if you are tired of having off-topic chatter pollute the Opera-related forums, simply cancel your membership in the Lounge via the "My Groups" section of the user preferences.
To sum up, there are two ways to access a group's forum if you are a member: either via the main community forums, or via the group itself.
Below are descriptions of some of the special searches (with exception of "Unread Posts" which is specially crafted) hotlinked to on the forum submenu.
The "Unread Posts" is in many ways equal to our old forum software's "new posts". It lists topics having posts which you haven't yet read, ordered by the time of the topics' last post. Use this to track new content in the forums.
"Today's Posts" is similar to "Unread Posts", however will show a list of topics which has had one or several new posts within the last 24 hours.
"Unanswered Posts" shows topics with no replies. It is our hope that this will help prevent good questions or people in need of help from getting lost in the shuffle of a busy forum.
My Active Topics
"My Active Topics" is inspired by the "Active threads" feature in Opera's News and Mail reader. It will list topics in which you have posted within the last week. Use this to track whether or not discussions you have partaken or are partaking in have gotten new answers (the envelope icon will be yellow in the case of new content).
Tracking of Read Topics
The forum software uses an exact method for tracking which posts you have read or not. It is accurate down to a topic page level. I.e., if you open a topic page, it is assumed that you have read all the posts on that page.
This way, you can trust that when the envelope in topic listings are yellow, clicking it will take you exactly to the first unread post in the topic.
To encourage use of the community's friend functionality, we have tried to include useful friend features into the forums. Currently, topics a friend has posted in appear in forum listing with a green indicator icon. Particular forum posts a friend has posted are also displayed with a green background, so that you can easily scroll through the topic to find a friend's posts.
Additionally, the main community forum front page lists four recent posts by your friends.
To add someone as your friend, go to the user's about-page and click the link to add her or him to your friends list.
Our forum software support topic subscriptions, that is, a notification when someone adds a post to a topic. However, do note that email notification are not enabled by default. This is because subscriptions are easily tracked via the "My Subscriptions" link in the forum submenu. Within "My Subscriptions" you can easily enable email notification by clicking the button towards the bottom of the page.
One detail which may be a bit confusing about the topic subscriptions, is that it uses a differnet read/unread system than detailed above. I.e., if you click "Mark all as read", topics you haven't specifically read are still marked as unread in the "My Subscriptions" screen.
Also note that even though there may be several unread posts in a topic, you will only get an email notification for the first of them. Subsequent posts will not trigger a notification, unless you have read the post which triggered the first notification. If you are uncertain, all topics with a yellow envelope icon in the "My Subscriptions" listing, is still unread and you will not get further email notifications before having read the topic.