SWF U3A Forum

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I used to run forums on the South Woodham Ferrers web site, but this was discontinued when I left the U3A at the end of 2018.  I have now rejoined the U3A and, as some people have missed the forums, I am resurrecting them.

We used the Bulletin Board Software that came with the web site which required everyone to have a logon identity.  Despite this we still suffered from spam, so I am dispensing with the bulletin board software for the open Computer Help Forum and using straight HTML/PHP for this.  You can find more information on that forum here.

There are two other forums, one for Digital Photography and one for Science and Technology.  These are intended to tide us over while the Covid-19 measures prevent us from attending meetings.  They may or may not continue afterwards according to what we decide then.  These forums will use the phpBB software as it saves me a lot of HTML coding, but self registration will be turned off to combat spam. User ids and passwords will be predefined and set up by me.  You have the facility to change your password via your email account.  If you want to change your sign on id I can do that for you.  Information on the rules pertaining to use of this forum may be found here.

There is no help with the software but it is fairly intuitive.  There is a FAQ which might answer some questions.  I have prepared a small guide to help you get started.  The forum uses the phpBB software that is supplied with my domain.  This software is widely used on the web for bulletin boards and has proven reliable.  It is held in the BB directory of my domain and can be accessed here.  It is also linked from the home page.

When you enter the forum for the first time you will be presented with this login page.  While you are logged in you will remain connected to the forum pages even if you navigate elsewhere on the web or sturnidae site and then return to the forum.  If you log out or are inactive for too long you will be logged out and will see this page again when you return to the /BB/ directory.  All of these images are displayed as thumbnails on the web page to make room for the text but are linked to a full size image which can be viewed by clicking on it.  Use the browser's back control to return to the web page.

After logging in, or if you click on the Board Index breadcrumb, you will see this page which indexes all the forums.  Although the software allows the creation of groups and assignment of users to groups which allows control of who can access which forum I have not done this to save on administration.  This means that all members can read, and even post, in all forums.  If you only belong to one of the groups, although you are free to read the other one, I would ask that you only post in your own group or the Welcome one.

This is the index page for a forum, the first page presented when you click on a link for a forum on the board index page.  It lists the topics in the forum.  When there are only a few the fit on one page and it is easy to remember what posts are in which topic.  As time goes on and more topics are entered they will flow onto further pages and over time similar topics will crop up so it can be difficult to find a particular post.  For that reason search facilities are provided.  The one at the top searches the whole bulletin board, the one next to the [new topic] button only searches the current forum.

If you click on [New topic] this is the edit page you will get.  You can either type directly, using the formatting menu, or paste formatted text.  If pasting the latter the software will attempt to match the formatting as best it can using the internal formatting provided.  Care should be taken with irony and sarcasm as things can easily be misunderstood online and flame wars break out.  If something appears to be offensive do not reply in kind, but assume it is an error, and be courteous at all times.

The software allows for images to be uploaded.  Please be sparing with this as space on my web site is limited.  As a guideline images should not be larger than 640x480. If a larger size is needed then upload it to another site or Google drive and provide a link to it.

This is the page layout you will see if you click on a topic on the index page.  All the comments for one topic, no matter when they were made, are threaded together so that you can read the whole topic but not see other topics until you select them.  If there is only the original post or a couple of comments it can fit on one screen but if there are many comments or large text has been used they will flow over many screen, but will still be on one page.  You can use the scroll bar on the right to move up and down the thread.

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