Getting Started - Forums Group - the Free Speech Platform

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Getting Started
Welcome to the Forums.Group platform. The purpose of this user guide is to tell you all you need to know in order to use the forum with confidence.

Many of you will have moved here from YahooGroups, so let us first point out the differences.

Differences between a Mailing List and Forums.Group!
A mailing list, like YahooGroups, (referred to as 'groups' from here on) is a reasonably simple system. You sign up, and then you can send in your messages (a new topic or in reply to a message you have just received) via email to yourgroup@yahoogroups.com and providing you are a member, that message gets sent out to all the other members of the group. Before things started to change, you also had the option of writing those messages on the group's website as well where you could also read all the past messages (often thousands of them) in one long unsorted list.

Each group had an owner/moderator that was in control of the group and was able to hold back those incoming posts for approval before being sent out to the 'list'.

There was also a separate area where you could upload files and pictures and apart from a few mostly unused features like a calendar, that was about it.

A forum has basically the same aim, to allow members to discuss the topic of the forum and members can write and respond to posts written by others. New posts can still be sent out via email on demand, but there is one major difference - where you write your posts!

While groups allowed you to post from your email program, forums require you to visit the forum's website and post your messages online - it is not possible to post via email. This 'disadvantage' however, comes with a major advantage: Categories!

Categories are sections dedicated to an aspect of the conversation. For example, if you had a group about cars, the messages about different brands of cars are all mixed up in one list. On a forum, you can not only have separate sections for each brand of car (GM, Ford, Volkswagen, etc.), you can even have a separate section for each type of car as well as for accessories, etc. This allows discussions of each car to be held in their own section, independent of every other car. Instead of a Ford owner being bombarded with messages about a Mercedes, as would happen on a group, a forum allows the member to just go to the Ford section while never having to see all those pesky Mercedes posts. Due to this natural sorting, it is much easier to read posts, made in the past, and often you will find the answer to your question because someone else has already asked it.

Groups just have one long unsorted list of posts, often with thousands of messages. Finding past discussions was difficult, so most people tended to only discuss the topic of the day as past topics get forgotten leading to the same questions getting asked repeatedly.

Forums make the past archives much more accessible with powerful searching tools and cross-referencing. You no longer have to read every topic that is posted and it is very much easier to find past topics and respond to them. Instead of just one or two conversations in a list, you can have a large number of simultaneous discussions on a forum, yet you only need to read the topics that interest you. There are loads of advantages in the forum system as you will discover.

Instead of separate files and photos areas, you can now attach them directly to the post where they are discussed. This is much more intuitive than saying "go to the files area and look up this file". Learn how to add attachments, here.

All the same, there are still going to be those members that are used to the simplicity of posting via email. On Forums.Group, we are therefore working on an extension to the system to allow posting via email as well, while still respecting categories. Development work is still ongoing for this feature that we hope to have working in September 2020.

So, basically all you have to do is get used to visiting the forum, instead of your email program, to read the posts and write your own. It is not difficult and there is no need to fill your email program with all those posts - they can stay on the forum where they belong.

You can learn a lot more about using our Forums.Group forums by reading this User Guide and you can also use our Demo Forum to practice using it.


Logging in to the forum
First of all, you need to become a member of the forum. If it is a new forum you are joining, then you have to first register a username. Click here for details of how to do that.

If your group was migrated to this forum, you will already have an account on the forum and you will be sent login details. You just have to login and then you are in. If you click on the little 'Remember me' box, you will remain logged in the next time you visit the forum on the same device.

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