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September 22, 2014, 07:19:21 PM

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So you've arrived at this Simple Machines Forum (SMF)! Perhaps you've been looking at the board index or a screen telling you that you need to register before you can read it and you're wondering what to do next?

Well, some forums permit guests to read and post, some permit guests to read only and some are restricted to registered members. We'd recommend registering at any forum that you see yourself using regularly because many of the most useful features will only become available to you when you do so. Since SMF, however, is such a flexible system that few forums are likely to be identical, we will start by describing four key areas that we'd normally expect to be there for you:

  1. The Main Menu
  2. The Board Index
  3. The Message Index
  4. The Topic

The Main Menu

Supposing you've arrived here as a guest (or have registered but are currently logged out), the main menu (which appears on every page) should normally comprise five or six buttons (or text links):

  • Home, which takes you back to the board index.
  • Help, which brings you to this guide.
  • Search, which allows you to search the forums for whatever you're looking for.
  • Calendar, which links to the forum calendar (if enabled).
  • Login, which allows you to login if already registered.
  • Register, which allows you to register (or sometimes apply for registration) when you wish to do so.

Once you've registered and logged in, however, the main menu should look a little different:

  • Home (as before).
  • Help (as before).
  • Search (as before).
  • Profile, which allows you to make changes to your profile settings.
  • Calendar (as before).
  • Logout, which allows you to logout again if desired.

Forum administrators should also note the presence of an additional Admin button.

The Board Index

While the board index (forum home page) is packed with all kinds of information and links, the core of the interface (at least in the SMF default theme) normally looks something like this:

+  Forum Name
-  Category Name
New Posts Board Name
Board Description
Number of topics and posts in this board Date, time, subject and author of last post

New Posts  No New Posts Mark ALL messages as read


  • The forum name links back to the top of the board index.
  • If the category is collapsible (shown by the little arrow symbol), clicking the category name collapses or expands the category as appropriate.
  • The board name links to the message index for that board.
  • The board description describes the board's content, and may also include links to child boards and/or specify the board's moderator(s).
  • The New Posts and No New Posts icons in the leftmost column show registered members whether there have been any new posts to the board since they last read it.
  • The Mark as Read button enables registered members to mark all posts in the entire forum as 'read'.

The Message Index

Like the board index, the message index interface is quite straightforward when reduced to its essential components:

+  Forum Name
|- +  Category Name
| |- +  Board Name
Pages: [1] Mark Read Notify of Replies Start new topic Post New Poll
Subject Started by Replies Views Last post  
Topic Subject New Topic Starter 0 0 Date, time and author of last post
Pages: [1] Mark Read Notify of Replies Start new topic Post New Poll
  Topic you have posted in
  Normal Topic
  Hot Topic (More than 15 replies)
  Very Hot Topic (More than 25 replies)
  Locked Topic
  Sticky Topic
  Poll
:  


  • Some forums show the navigation tree at the top in a space-saving horizontal mode.
  • The page numbers link to further pages of the board, and may be accompanied by Go Up and Go Down buttons linking to the top and bottom of the current page.
  • The Mark as Read button enables registered members to mark all posts in this board as 'read'.
  • The Notify button enables registered members to subscribe to email notification of replies to topics in this board.
  • The New Topic and New Poll buttons are for starting new topics and polls, as described in the posting help.
  • The Subject, Started by, Replies, Views and Last post links enable you to sort the columns by these parameters (with Last post also toggling between descending and ascending order as indicated by the little arrow).
  • The topic icons in the leftmost column are explained by the key below.
  • The post icons in the next column are sometimes used to draw attention to the mood or purpose of the topic.
  • The topic subject links to the start of the topic, with extra links for subsequent pages and new buttons to take registered members straight to their first unread post of the topic.
  • Where the topic has been started or last replied to by a registered member, their names link to their respective profiles.
  • The Jump to menu provides a convenient quick method of navigating the forum.

The Topic

Sometimes referred to as threads, topics are where you find the actual messages:

+  Forum Name
|- +  Category Name
| |- +  Board Name
| | |- +  Topic Subject
Pages: [1] Reply Notify of Replies Mark unread Send this topic Print
Author Topic: Topic Subject  (Read x times)
Author
Member Group
Post Group
*
Post Count



View Profile Email Personal Message (Offline)
Topic Subject
« Date and Time of Post »
Reply with quote

Here is the text of the message, which is ultimately what we're all here for! Smiley
Report to moderator     Logged
Pages: [1] Reply Notify of Replies Mark unread Send this topic Print
:  



  • Some forums show the navigation tree at the top in a space-saving horizontal mode.
  • Some forums may also be configured with previous and next topic links.
  • The page numbers link to further pages of the topic, and may be accompanied by Go Up and Go Down buttons linking to the top and bottom of the current page.
  • The Reply button enables you to reply to the topic.
  • The Notify button enables registered members to subscribe to email notification of replies to the topic.
  • The Mark Unread button enables registered members to mark the topic as 'unread', which means that it will still be listed as new and can be effectively 'saved for later'. Note that this button changes to Add Poll in the bottom button set for users with permission to add polls to existing topics.
  • The Send Topic button enables registered members to send a link to the topic by email.
  • The Print button creates a simplified, printer-friendly rendering of the page.
  • The author name links to the author's profile
  • The author details in the lefthand column may be accompanied by further personal information.
  • The topic subject links back to the start of the topic.
  • The Quote button enables you to quote the post.
  • Further Modify and Delete options are normally provided to enable registered members to edit their own posts.
  • Report to moderator enables you to report abusive or wrongly-placed posts to the forum staff.
  • Logged indicates that the IP of the author has been logged. The actual IP is only available to board administrators
  • The Jump to menu provides a convenient quick method of navigating the forum.
IntroductionRegisteringLogging InProfilePostingPersonal MessageSearching

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