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About this new Discussion Community System


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#1 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 09:33 PM

Dear Discussion Community members,

Welcome to the Discussion Community as it is configured on its new operating system. We are phasing in the transition from the old system to the new; as of today (Great and Holy Monday, 2006) the two largest topic areas (Doctrine and Theology and Ascesis and Praxis of the Orthodox Life) have been moved to the new system. The remaining areas will be transferred during the coming week.

For the past five years, the Discussion Community has used the DiscusPro forum system to operate as a forum. However, as we have grown to a Community of some 20,000 posts and 1,000 users, we have gradually exceeded the features of that system. Our new configuration is powered by the much more robust vBulletin software, which allows for greater features, some advanced functionality, as well as a more stable and speedy server performance.

All changes take some getting used to: this is a new system, and things are not all in the same place as on the old. Do explore our new surroundings. Just a few of the new features include:

  • Advanced message editor interface: easier formatting of your messages, including links, e-mail addresses, text formatting, etc.
  • In-line quotation of posts, making it easier to quote messages and reply to specific themes.
  • Better organisation of threads: conversations follow an initial post with replies that can be threaded, etc.
  • Advanced member configurability: Would you prefer the interface in US English, rather than the UK-Monachos English standard? Would you like to see threaded or hybrid post display pages, rather than the in-line default? A whole host of user configurability options is available from the new User Control Panel ('UserCP'), available from the menu bar at the top of the screen.
  • Private Messaging can now include formatted messages, you can store received PMs in inboxes and custom folders on-line, or download them for off-line reading.
  • Create a 'Friends List'/'Buddy List' to see who else is on-line in the Community while you are.
  • More easily edit posts you have made to the Community, after they have been posted.

And a host of others. Enjoy exploring these features.

If you have any questions, please feel free to pose them as replies in this thread.

INXC, Matthew

#2 Marcos G.

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 09:51 PM

Congratulations on a fine job. I only need to configure the forums I want.
I have noted your interest in the issue of the Coptic Church and found that I benefitted immensely from a post that gave the account of the dialogue with the Russian Church from the Coptic point of view. I am referring to the Third Meeting of the Joint Commission. It is the first time I feel I have understood the Coptic point of view and I have looked at this before. So, thanks for the good work.
Marc (Floridian)

#3 Father Anthony

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 01:26 AM

Congratulations!

This looks like an improvement over the old system and is a little easier to get around. I do like it and pray that it will be well used.

In IC XC,
Father Anthony+

#4 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 12:36 PM

Dear all,

As of this afternoon, the following areas have been migrated from the old system to this new environment:

  • Monasticism
  • In depth: Text, Studies and Fathers
  • Casual and Personal Conversation

Combined with the 'Doctrine' and 'Ascesis' areas that were previously moved, this means that as of the present moment the only areas still awaiting import are:

  • Ecclesiology and the Church
  • Liturgy and Liturgical Study
  • Additional 'About the Community' topics

For the meantime these are still available at the old forum, but they will be imported to this new environment shortly.

INXC, Matthew

#5 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 03:00 PM

Dear all,

As of 3.00 p.m. GMT today, Great and Holy Wednesday 2006, the whole of the Monachos.net Discussion Community now resides on this new system. The full content of all the post areas and archives has been transferred. As such, our new system is now 'fully on-line' and has replaced the old.

What remains now is the rather large-scale project of gradually going through the archives (some 19,000 posts in total) to correct the inevitable formatting errors that have crept in whilst moving from one system to another. When browsing older threads in this new environment, please don't be too bothered by some odd formatting (occasional HTML code apparent in messages, or errant boldface font, etc.): these items are being dealt with, but will take time.

If you encounter a situation where a formatting problem is causing a whole page to display improperly, please use the red 'alert' triangle image on the offending post to report it directly to me for more immediate correction.

INXC, Matthew

#6 Marcos G.

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 12:43 PM

I get an email telling me that there are posts in areas to which I have subscribed. Why don't I get the messages in the email box? I am told to go to the web to read the new messages. Have I configured the subscriptions this way? :confused:
I have tried to see my subscriptions and I only see one: Community. Where are the others? I think I subscribed to four.

Does it make a difference if I am jumping from Firefox to MS Explorer on several occasions. You used to recommend Firefox, do you continue to recommend it or is it better to use MS Explorer when visiting here?

The new interface and reply system is pretty.

Thanks very much.
PS JUST WENT TO CONTROL PANEL. I saw all my subscribed forums listed and I can go there. Answered my own question.

#7 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 01:48 PM

I'm glad you managed to sort through all your own questions!

As to which browser to use, this is really all down to a matter of personal preference in the end. I use Firefox primarily for my own personal browsing; but the Discussion Community (and indeed the whole of Monachos.net) will display just fine on IE and most other current major browsers.

(NB: Monachos.net in a sense 'endorses' Firefox primarily on ideological grounds, in that it is generally a more secure broswer. As to browsing the Monachos web site, Firefox offers a few special 'perks' [e.g. the sidebars on the left- and right-hand side of all Monachos.net pages looks a touch nicer in Firefox than IE], but these are minor; IE works just as well.)

INXC, Matthew

#8 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 07:54 PM

I am no longer receiving posts in my email inbox. Can you explain how to do this?

Only problem is since I'm not receiving emails in my inbox- I might never see the answer! :)

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#9 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 10:50 PM

E-mail notification of posts works a bit differently now; the new system is designed around being primarily an on-line, rather than e-mail based, system, and as such 'encourages' you to visit the on-line forum as often as possible for the newest information. Below is some advice on viewing new messages:

The best way to check for new messages:


A. You can always view new posts by clicking the New Posts link on the blue toolbar towards the top of all Community pages, once you've logged in. This displays all threads that have new messages - i.e. that you've not yet read. From the resulting list of new threads, you can do any of the following:
  • Click the thread title to be taken to the beginning of that thread;
  • Click the down-arrow-in-a-blue-box image, just before the thread title, to go to the first message in that thread that you've not yet read; or
  • click the right-arrow-in-a-blue-box image next to the last poster's name, to go to the last post in the thread.
Using this 'New Posts' function is the surest, most solid and reliable way to ensure that you see all new posts that you've not yet read.

NB: In the results listing for a 'New Posts' search, if you wish to mark all threads in all forums as 'read', even if you've not read them (i.e. if you wish to 'catch yourself up' on all posts), you can click the Mark all forums as read link at the top of the listing. This will update all read-counts for your account.

NB2: If there are no new posts when you click New Posts, you will be given an option to see all posts from the last 24 hours instead.



Alternative methods, involving e-mail notification:


B. You can subscribe to forums, so that you receive an e-mail notification any time a new thread (not a new post!) is initiated within that forum.

NB: A 'forum' is one of the main sub-topic areas of the Community; thus Creation, the Cosmos and Human Nature under 'Doctrine and Theology' is a forum, as is Sin, Evil, the Devil and Repentance, etc. There are about 25 forums in the Discussion Community.


To subscribe to a forum in this way:

  • Go to the forum to which you wish to subscribe.
  • Once in the forum, click the Forum Tools drop-down menu towards the top of the list of threads. From that menu, select Subscribe to This Forum.
  • Then select whether you wish to receive e-mail notifications of new threads (a) instantly, (b) as a daily digest, or © as a weekly digest, sent out on Fridays. Click the Add subscription button, and you're done. You'll now receive an e-mail whenever a new thread is begun in that forum.
  • Repeat for any forums for which you wish to receive notification of new threads.

C. E-mail notification of new posts in specific threads is managed by subscribing to specific threads. You can subscribe to threads manually in the following way:

  • Navigate your way to the thread to which you wish to subscribe.
  • Within that thread, click on the Thread Tools drop-down menu at the top of the list of posts/messages. From that menu, click on Subscribe to This Thread
  • Select whether you wish to receive e-mail notification of new posts to the thread (a) instantly, (b) in a daily digest, or © in a weekly digest. Then click Add subscription.

That's all there is to it. You will not receive an e-mail notification when a new post is made to that thread.


D. You can also set your default thread subscription preferences for threads in which you post messages (i.e. threads to which you contribute). This means, in other words, that you can instruct the system automatically to subscribe you to every thread to which you post a message, so you'll be notified by e-mail when another member replies.

To configure automatic/default thread subscription preferences, follow these simple steps:

  • Once you've logged into the Discussion Community, click the UserCP link at the left-hand side of the blue toolbar towards the top of all Community pages.
  • From the User Control Panel, select Edit Options from the menu bar at the left.
  • Within the Edit Options screen, scroll down until you find Default Thread Subscription Mode. From the drop-down list, select how you would like to receive default subscription e-mail notifications: (a) not at all, (b) instantly, © as a daily digest, or (d) as a weekly digest.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the Save Changes button.

That's all there is to it; from this moment onward you will automatically receive e-mail notification of replies in threads to which you contribute by posting yourself.


Some final thoughts:


The new system encourages members to visit the on-line forum of the Monachos.net Discussion Community frequently, using the New Posts search as a primary way of finding new messages and discussions in the Community. Using this method (method 'A', above) is the surest way never to miss new conversations, etc. E-mail notification is intended primarily as an extra tool to draw your attention to replies to your own posts (especially when configured as a default settings, as per option 'D' above); but it is intended that you'll still log into the web interface regularly to check for new threads and messages via the 'New Posts' link.

Yes, this is a different 'approach' to interacting with the Discussion Community than was espoused on our old system, and (especially for Orthodox people!), change is always difficult and requires some time for accustomisation; but we're certain this is for the best. Indeed, the need to 're-adjust' is a positive sign: it is occasioned by the growth of the Community over the past years, into a forum that has well exceeded the limitations of our old system software. This new system is more in accordance with the design of large fora, and is meant specifically to be an on-line discussion community, not an 'e-mail list' (such as a YahooGroup or listserv list), which work entirely by e-mail by lack the kind of organisation and structure of an authentic forum.

Once we grow used to the new system, all for the better it shall surely be!

INXC, Matthew

(Always available for queries by sending a Private Message to M.C. Steenberg, or by clicking my username on my posts, and selecting Send a Private Message to M.C. Steenberg from the resulting drop-down list.)

#10 Marie+Duquette

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 01:47 PM

Dear Matthew,
You are doing a fine work in improving the MONACHOS web site.
I seem to understand most of the 'new" items. BUT, One thing that I find very difficult is READING the SIZE of the PRINT. For visually impaired persons this is a hardship, especially in posts that are incoming. I understand that I can increase the size for my out-going posts. But, what to do for incoming posts?

marie-duquette!


#11 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 07:31 PM

Dear Marie-Duquette,

I've tried some editing, and believe I'm come up with something. You should now be able to select a 'large font' option for viewing the whole of the Discussion Community. You can test it now by scrolling to the bottom of the page, and from the drop-down menu on the lefthand side of the footer toolbar, change the display style from Monachos Default 2006 to Monachos, Large Font. This should reload the page with the large-font style.

If you prefer that large style and wish to use it all the time, you can set it as your standard by going to UserCP > Edit Options, and under Forum Skin, changing your setting from Forum Default to Monachos, Large Font.

Please let me know if that helps!

INXC, Matthew

#12 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 05:51 PM

Dear Matthew,

I have a couple of questions.

1) When I make a reply post within the forum the next thing that often (but not always) appears is the request to log in- even though I think I began by logging in- otherwise how did I get to the message board in the first place? Then another page appears with a notice about being on a wrong thread (I really don't understand this one.) Then if I press the "New Posts" button at the top of the page I see my post appeared on the thread anyway. Can you explain if I am doing something wrong when I post?

2) Is there a way to see all of the previous posts in the thread one is replying to? (The old version of monachos allowed this). I've tried pressing the Quote button at the bottom of the page and this includes the post previous to one's own- or I guess it's the actual post one is replying to. But there doesn't seem to be a way of seeing the other previous posts on the thread. This is a bit of a challenge as often when I post I am making a reply with several posts on the thread in mind- and in the old system I could even scroll up the page to check out what was said and what I'm replying to.

Thanks.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#13 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 06:15 PM

Dear Fr Raphael, and others who may have similar questions,

You asked:

1) When I make a reply post within the forum the next thing that often (but not always) appears is the request to log in- even though I think I began by logging in- otherwise how did I get to the message board in the first place? Then another page appears with a notice about being on a wrong thread (I really don't understand this one.) Then if I press the "New Posts" button at the top of the page I see my post appeared on the thread anyway. Can you explain if I am doing something wrong when I post?


This sounds like a 'cookie' issue being caused by your not instructing the system to 'remember' you after logging-in. When you log into the Discussion Community, next to the username and password boxes you'll see a small tick-box labelled 'Remember me?' Click this to instruct the system to keep your details 'persistent' - that is, not to sign you out automatically after a given amount of down time. Otherwise, if you go to type a long reply or message, by the time you are done typing and click the 'Post' button, the system may have 'forgotten' who you are.

(This issue is actually a security feature: it essentially automatically logs you out after a given period of time if you have not told the system to remember you - which is useful if you're on a public machine, in a library, etc., and might forget to log out.)

2) Is there a way to see all of the previous posts in the thread one is replying to? (The old version of monachos allowed this). I've tried pressing the Quote button at the bottom of the page and this includes the post previous to one's own- or I guess it's the actual post one is replying to. But there doesn't seem to be a way of seeing the other previous posts on the thread. This is a bit of a challenge as often when I post I am making a reply with several posts on the thread in mind- and in the old system I could even scroll up the page to check out what was said and what I'm replying to.


Yes, this is already built in - the only difference from the old to the new system is that you scroll down, rather than up, the page to see the contents of the whole thread. When you click 'Post Reply' or 'Quote' a message, scroll down the page in which you are composing your new message, and just below the Additional Options section, you'll find the contents of the whole thread, in reverse order (i.e. newest posts - most likely to be referenced - at the top of the listing, and then in reverse-date order).

That should do it!

XB, Matthew

#14 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 12:41 AM

Ah now I understand what I'm doing wrong. I'm not asking the system to 'remember me' and the system times out.

As for the second issue, I scrolled down the page, and saw the actual answer to my question should have been, "Fr Raphael wake up!"

#15 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 01:17 PM

What remains now is the rather large-scale project of gradually going through the archives (some 19,000 posts in total) to correct the inevitable formatting errors that have crept in whilst moving from one system to another. When browsing older threads in this new environment, please don't be too bothered by some odd formatting (occasional HTML code apparent in messages, or errant boldface font, etc.): these items are being dealt with, but will take time.


Dear all,

As a brief update on this project: the Doctrine and Theology and Ecclesiology and the Church main areas have now been fully gone through and formatted. You'll note that posts therein no longer contain errant HTML code, bizarre formatting problems (particularly centred around the 'Quote Text' functions) and other little errors.

We're now moving on to the other areas. This is slow going, as it involves examining each and every post in every thread, to the total of c. 18,000. But it's necessary work to get the imported archives of past discussions into a nice display format - and also offers the opportunity to do some pruning, moving of threads to proper locations, etc., so that navigation of the archives is all the easier.

As ever, you can use the small 'alert' triangle in the upper right-hand corner of every post, to report it to the moderator if it presents a significant formatting problem, or otherwise requires moderator attention.

XB, Matthew

(NB: One issue remains in the two 'finished' areas mentioned; namely, that instances of the 'and' sign [&] in old posts have imported as '&', which becomes especially apparent in the posts of certain individuals who use that key a great deal [nudging my favourite Canadian Raphaelite]. This will be sorted in a system-wide cut-and-paste shortly.)

#16 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 08:55 AM

Dear all,

I'm happy to say we've spent some time creating a set of thorough help and instructions for the Discussion Community system, to help familiarise everyone with all the features, basic and advanced, of the forum.

Our various help documents are found in the FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions area, which is always available from the 'FAQ' link in the blue toolbar at the top of the page.

Currently there are three main FAQ areas: one on how to use the Discussion Community system, one that deals more specifically with information for users of the old system with questions about the new, and a third that contains our Terms of Use and Community outline.

Each FAQ has several sections. You can find information on how to configure your public profile, or how to use the 'Friends List' feature. There are sections on different ways you can view message threads, on using the public calendar, as on thread ratings and other features.

With regard to reading and posting messages, there are help and instruction sections on formatting codes used to format your posts, as well as how to use the various formatting toolbars that appear in message editor windows. You can also find out more about attachments, as well as the ability to cast and vote in polls.

Once again, these are but a few of the sub-sections. Full materials are always to hand in the FAQ area.

XB, Matthew

#17 Theopesta

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 01:37 AM

Dr. Matthew

i try to print some posts to read them carefully but i think this function not present in new system while it was present in the older, is it present but I do not know where?

many thnks

#18 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 06:38 AM

i try to print some posts to read them carefully but i think this function not present in new system while it was present in the older, is it present but I do not know where?


At the top of most thread pages, you'll see a Thread Tools drop-down menu. One option on this menu is 'Show Printable Version', which will display a nicely printer-ready version of the thread for you.

If you wish to print individual posts, simply click the number of the post (found in the upper right-hand corner of every post, e.g. '#14'), to open that post in its own window, for printing or direct linking, etc.

INXC, Matthew




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