Hints regarding the use of this forum

This topic collects some information and links related to the discourse software on which this forum runs. These hints are principally aimed at new users who have not used similar internet forums before.

This site provides what is known as discussion server, a type of internet forum where participants do not need to interact in real time — asynchronous communication. Forums have a long tradition in the internet and a set of social practices concerning their use and abuse has evolved.

Discourse uses the lightweight markdown markup language for formatting. So you should learn enough of its syntax to understand how to create links and lists and similar constructions. It might also be useful to learn some keyboard shortcuts to make your editing a bit more efficient.

Then you need to understand the forum software. This is a bit more complicated and some experimentation might well be necessary. A good place to start is this guide:

As described in the above guide, users can set notifications on a per‑topic, per‑category, and per‑tag basis. Setting any of these features to “watching” can be useful and with further tweaks in your user profile, will trigger email traffic too.

The guide also covers draft postings, so that you can develop your content privately, over several sessions if need be, before going live. Another useful feature are wiki posts, a per‑post setting which allows other users to later edit published posts.

Discourse runs a series of trust levels from TL0 to TL4, through which users migrate gaining privileges as they proceed — as explained in this blog.

Users can continue to edit their posts for 5 minutes after submission without triggering a new version — and are encouraged to do so to fix typos, correct markup, and generally copy‑edit during this window. Posts by TL1 users are permanently locked after 24 hours and by TL2 users after 30 days.

This site does not strip metadata from file uploads. For instance, if you upload a JPEG image, the file will remain identical and any information embedded by the camera or by editing software will persist. This is not the default behavior of discourse.

Note that any information you enter and delete remains in the server database — and that purging entries permanently is difficult and can only be undertaken by addressing the database directly. So please never enter or upload compromised material in the first place.

That said, your account can be erased completely following European GDPR data protection requirements, as described here.

Some guidelines for online conduct from Richard Stallman that are well worth studying:

Finally, please note this site is actively moderated and clearly off‑topic or objectionable behavior will be sanctioned as deemed necessary.

In summary, an internet discussion server, such as this one, comes with:

  • a set of social traditions — a nettiqutte
  • a specific protocol or platform — in this case, discourse
  • a markup language — in this case, markdown
  • a community — our one is in its very early days

If you have questions, direct message a forum staff member. You can find them listed here.

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