NOTE! First let me start off by saying that if all you want to do is read stuff that is posted in the forum then you don't have to read any further. Just register for the forum, log in and read. You can read anything in there as long as you are logged in. There is no need to do anything else.
If you want to "discuss" or post anything in there then read on.
What it is.
A discussion forum is basically like and old fashioned bulletin board in the lobby of a club. Someone "posts" an item on the board with a thumb tack and leaves. Others come along and read it and if they want to reply they take another piece of paper and tack it on top of that one. Others do the same. When the original poster comes back he sees all the replies to his post tacked on top of his and he reads them.
An example would be a college lounge. Lets say the college is in Ohio. A student from Florida wants to go home for spring break but he doesn't have a car. He knows that there are other students there that also live in FL and are probably going home too, who do have cars. So he goes to the student lounge and posts a "ride request" on the board with the location he wants to go to. The next day he comes back and sees a paper tacked on top of his. It's from another student from FL that says that he does have a car and is going to FL and would love the company and someone to pay for the gas, so the original poster leaves another post saying "sounds good lets meet 'here' and discuss the particulars".
These discussion boards works just like that, except in digital form. No paper or thumb tacks.
Here's how it works
When you log in to the board you will see a list of forums. Each of these forums has a specific theme or grouping of topics; for example "website issues". When you click on that particular forum you will see a list of topics started by other users. In this example all those topics will pertain to the theme of that particular forum which in this case is questions or issues regarding the website.
If you click on a particular topic you will see all the posts (or comments that people have posted) in chronological order so you can read all the comments in the order in which they were posted.
If you want to reply (add a comment) to the conversation you click "post reply" type your comment and click "submit". Your comment will be added to the bottom of the list.
To create your own topic
If you want to create a new topic first make sure that your topic is not already covered in one of the already existing topics. If it is then post it in there instead to keep all similar ideas in the same singular topic. this creates a "thread" that people can follow.
If no existing topic really covers what you want to discuss then you can start a new conversation (topic) by first choosing which forum best pertains to the topic you want to start. For example, if you want to post a question about lawn maintenance you should not post it in the "website issues" forum. It should go in the "association questions" forum.
Once you are in the appropriate forum, click "new topic". It will ask you for a subject for your topic such as "lawn maintenance". Then type your topic and press "submit". You'll see the new topic posted there.
When others log in and read your topic they will be able to reply if they want to and then you will be able to read their replies.
And that's it. You just keep logging in to see if there are any new topics or replies to older topics. Either you just read or reply and converse. Basically a never ending conversation about everything.
Publicly viewable forum open to the public for viewing only. Guests can read only.
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