Discussions

The Discussions application can be used to facilitate online free-form discussions, and find out the opinions of the public, or your members, on a range of topics.

It allows you to structure the discussions into different subjects, and within each subject allows multiple threads of messages. Discussions can be open (anyone can post), moderated (an administrator must approve all new messages), or closed (only administrators can post).

You can also use the Permissions settings to control who can post to open discussions - e.g., you can choose to limit it to members of your site, or to a specific set of people. For further details see the Permissions section below.

To enable this application, go to the Content Management tab of the administration pages, then go to the Applications page, and click the Enable button next to Discussions.

Once enabled, you can get to the administration pages for the application in one of two ways:

  1. Click Manage Discussions on the public pages of the Discussions application on your website (you must be logged in as an administrator to see the button).
  2. From within the administration pages for the website, go to the Content Management tab, and click on Discussions in the Site Map.

Adding a Discussion Forum

  • Click the Add a Discussion button, which can be found:
    1. On the public pages of the Discussions application on your website (you must be logged in as an administrator to see it).
    2. On the administration pages of the Discussions application.
  • On the form, enter the Name and Purpose of the discussion.
  • Select the Presentation:
    • Flat only allows replies at the end of the forum.
    • Threaded allows your visitors to reply to any post, and discussions are nested when viewed.
  • Choose a Posting Policy:
    • Open allows any user with Edit permission to post, and posts appear immediately.
    • Moderated allows any user with Edit permission to post, though posts must be approved by a moderator before others can see them.
    • Closed means only administrators may post - e.g., if you want to use it only for announcements.
  • Choose whether users can create new discussions. If you choose No, users will only be able to reply to existing discussions, otherwise users will be able to create new discussions.
  • Click OK - you will then be taken back to the discussion page where you will see your discussion forum displayed.

Editing a Discussion Forum

You can get to the settings for an existing discussion in two ways:

  1. From the public website, select Discussions from the menu, go to the discussion forum, and click the Manage this Discussion button at the top of the page.
  2. Or, from the administration pages go to the Content Management tab, select Discussions from the Site Map, and click  the edit icon to the left of the discussion name in the list.

This takes you to the original form you used when you created the discussion, make any changes then click OK.

Enabling and Disabling a Discussion Forum

You cannot delete a forum, but you can disable existing ones:

  • Go to the administration pages of the Discussions application.
  • Click on the ticked box next to the discussion name in the Enabled column in the list of discussions. This unticks the box and disables the discussion.
  • Re-tick the box if you wish to enable the forum again.

Posting a Message

  • Go to Discussions from the menu on the public pages of your website.
  • Select the discussion you would like to post your message to.
  • Click on Post a New Message.
  • Fill in the Subject and Body of your message.
  • Optionally you can click the Preview button to see how your message will appear on the website. You can choose to subscribe to email notifications for replies to this message, and then either Post or Edit Again.
  • If you did not preview your message simply click the Post button. The message will then appear on the website.

Note: If it is a moderated forum your message will not appear until approved by a moderator.

Replying to a Message

  • Clicking Reply under a message will add a new message to the forum under the current one.
  • You can also forward a message by email, by clicking Forward.

Moderating a Discussion

If you have chosen to moderate your discussion you will need to regularly check for any changes (or use the request notification link to be automatically notified by email - see Notifications below).

To moderate messages in a discussion:

  • Go to Discussions from the menu on the public pages of your website.
  • Select the discussion you wish to moderate.
  • Click on Moderate this Discussion at the top of the page.
  • You will see a list of any messages that are pending moderation - these are waiting for you to check them.
  • Click on a message that needs moderating. The actions available are:
    • Edit - modify the subject/message.
    • Delete - permanently deletes the message.
    • Approve - makes the message visible to all.
    • Reject - message will remain invisible, but can be approved later if desired.

Moving Messages

Administrators and moderators can move a message from one discussion to another, or to another thread in the same discussion. This helps to keep the discussions structured and relevant, should someone have posted something in an inappropriate place.

To move messages:

  • Go to the message you wish to move. Your options are:
    • Move thread to other discussion - moves the entire thread (the message and any replies) to another discussion forum.
    • Move thread to other thread - moves the entire thread to be part of another existing thread.
    • Move to other thread - moves the message to another existing thread.
  • Click the appropriate button depending on where you want to move the message or thread.
  • Select the destination, and confirm.

Notifications

You (or your users) can receive all replies to a message or discussion by email in order to keep in touch with what people are saying without having to look at the discussion forums. Simply click request notification in the appropriate discussion or message thread to activate this. You can choose from the drop down how often you wish to be notified.

If you no longer wish to be notified click Unsubscribe, or follow the link in the email you are sent, which allows you to configure your notifications.

Permissions

You can configure the permissions of the whole Discussions application which will affect all discussions, or individually alter the permissions on each discussion. This is useful if, for example, you wish to assign someone as a moderator of a particular forum but not all of them, or if you wish to allow members to post to one forum but not to another.

  • Go to the administration pages of the Discussions application.
  • Click on Permissions above the list of discussions to configure settings for all discussions.
  • Click on Permissions next to an individual discussion to configure settings just for that discussion.

Unlike other applications, Discussions also allows you to grant Moderate privileges to users.

For further details of how to use Permissions, see the Permissions section of the manual.

Notes:

  • Administrators can also moderate discussions (i.e., if you give someone Admin permission they can also moderate the discussion).
  • It is possible, though NOT recommended, to allow The Public to have Write permission. This will allow anyone to post to the discussion without first logging in. This is useful if you need anonymous feedback, but is open to abuse from spammers.