Forum Navigation Guide

Welcome! As a new user of FREESOFF, we hope you will find this site intuitive and clearly structured, but here is some guidance to get you started:

Use the Table of Contents to Jump to a specific topic image


Section 1 - Terminology

Here are some very basic terms that will be helpful to keep in mind as you use FREESOFF or read this guide:

  • Topic: The collection of messages grouped together in a meaningful conversation, with a title, listed in a category, beginning with an Original Post, and including all replies in chronological order.
  • Post: Each element of a topic is referred to as a post. Each post has its own author and can be moved to a different topic if necessary, or even become the start of a new topic.
  • Original Post (or OP): The first post in any topic. This is key since it determines the focus of the topic and is what the title and tags will link to.
  • Category: The primary means of organizing topics. Each topic is placed in exactly one category. Categories have permissions which can restrict which users can create, reply, and see its topics. You can also configure notification preferences per category or even mute them as explained below. Categories are a similar concept to a ‘forum’ on other sites.
  • Tag: A marker placed on a topic to describe it. While a topic can only have one category, it can have multiple tags. New tags can be created by some users. Various parts of the forum also allow you to filter by tag (e.g. click the tag). The Tags Index Page has a listing of all tags.
  • User: You are required to register in order to create posts and record any actions such as bookmarking, liking, tagging, and flagging. Most site activity, therefore, is based around registered Users

Section 2 - Browsing the Forum

a. Topic lists

By default, the FREESOFF homepage will show all Latest conversations in the community but you can filter this list in a number of ways:

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  • By category: in the menu line, click the ‘all categories’ title and a list of all the categories appears.

  • By tag: in the menu line, click the ‘all tags’ title and a list of all the tags are used will appear.

  • By level of activity: if you click on ‘Top’ the conversation topics will be listed in order of most activity (views and replies) for a specific time period. You can choose whether this is for all time, or select a specific period such as quarter, month, week or just today.

  • By what topics are “Unread”: by default, unread topics are those that you have previously opened and read for at least 4 minutes, and that have new posts (replies) submitted to them. Unread topics show a number in a blue circle indicating how many new posts are in the topic.
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b. See who is participating

There are several ways to see who is involved in topics.

On the homepage you will see a selection of avatars (profile pictures) of:

  • the user who started the topic (always the first photo);
  • a selection of the most active participants;
  • and, who created the most recent post (usually the last photo).
  • in some cases, the first photo has a blue border or blue halo to indicate that the original poster is also the most recent poster
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The box at the bottom of the OP tells you; who created the post and when, gives a count of the replies and views in this topic to date, and a display of the avatars of the most frequent participants.

Section 3 - Navigation Tools

  • For Search, the Menu, or your User page, use the icon buttons at the upper right.
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Section 4 - Reading Topics

A healthy community needs members to be posting new content, but this activity is not everything. Readers are the true indicators of how healthy the community is. What’s the point of posts that no-one reads? FREESOFF encourages and tracks reading habits so community managers can keep a healthy balance.

a. Keep scrolling

Click a topic title and read down the list of replies in chronological order, following links or previewing replies and quotes as you go. Use your mouse to scroll the screen, or use the timeline scroll bar on the right which also shows you how far through the conversation you’ve read. On smaller screens, select the bottom progress bar to expand it.

b. Jump back in

  • Selecting a topic title will take you to your last read post in the topic. To enter at the top ↑ or bottom ↓ instead, click the reply count or last reply date.
  • Topics above the light red line on a list are new or updated since your last visit. If you have read all the way to the end of a topic, the title will be light grey instead of black.
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c. Related topics

Sometimes conversations are clearer if topics are split, where posts are moved to a more appropriate topic, or two related topics are merged. If a post is moved, a link will appear that will allow readers to jump to that comment wherever it has been moved to, and the person who posted it will also be notified.
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At the end of the OP you will also see lists of related topics that link to the one you are reading

Section 5 - Taking Part in Conversations

a. Replying

Press any image Reply button to open the editor panel at the bottom of your browser. You can continue reading (and even search or navigate to different topics) while you compose your reply.

FREESOFF shows all posts in the order they are published. It does not make you chase down multiple threaded paths. However, it still gives you lots of ways to follow the context of conversations.

To reply to a specific post in a topic, clicking the grey Reply button at the end of each post and your reply is linked to that post.

  • If your reply is the next one published after the post you are replying to, this will appear next in chronological order
  • If yours is NOT next, then two things happen after your post is published:
    • Your post will include a new link in its header with an image to show what this is ‘in reply to’ - clicking this link displays that previous post for context next to your reply
    • The original post includes a count of replies at the bottom - clicking this link displays the content of the replies

b. Drafts

Drafts will automatically be saved as you write. If you minimise the editor or navigate to a different topic, the editor might disappear. To open a draft, return to the topic you were replying to or click the highlighted bar at the bottom of your browser, and the editor will reappear with your draft.

c. Quoting

To insert a quote, select the text you wish to quote, then press the Quote button that pops up. There is no need to quote a whole message: it helps to be specific. Repeat this for multiple quotes even from different posts and different users. The quoted text will point to their original source.

d. Mentioning

To notify someone about your reply, mention their name. Type @ to begin selecting a username. This search will also search the name fields in case you don’t know a particular username.
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e. Emoji

To use Emoji, just type : to match by name, or traditional smileys ;)
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Alternatively, click on more to see a complete list of emoji to select from.

f. Oneboxes (Link Previews)

To generate a summary for a link, paste it on a line by itself. To start a topic with a link, paste the link into the title field.
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g. Formatting

Your reply can be formatted using simple HTML, BBCode, or Markdown:

This is <b>bold</b>.
This is [b]bold[/b].
This is **bold**.

For more formatting tips, try this 10 minute tutorial.

h. Tags

While tagging is optional, all users are encouraged to use it. Tags act as markers for the topic matter of the forum thread.
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Tags can be helpful when creating a new thread. There is a Topic Tags box just besides the Category Drop down box. Simply type into it and suggestions will appear.

If you’re a Level 3 or above user, or a moderator/admin, you can create a new tag on-the-fly by entering it in a post’s tag box. See Section 8 - Trust Levels.

Section 6 - Actions and Reactions

There are action buttons at the bottom of each post:
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  • To let someone know that you enjoyed and appreciated their post, use the like button. Share the love!
  • Grab a copy-pasteable (permalink) link to any reply or topic via the link button.
  • Use the button to reveal more actions: Flag to privately let the author, or the site staff, know about a problem. Edit to edit your post, if possible. Bookmark to find this post later on your profile page:
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    Our Frequently Asked Questions contains more information on flagging topics.

Section 7 - Notifications

a. Personal notifications

When someone is talking directly to you – by replying to you, quoting your post, mentioning your @username, or even linking to your post – a blue number will immediately appear over your profile picture at the top right.

When you have been sent a Personal Message you will receive this in your Inbox and a green number will appear over your profile picture to the left.

Click your profile image to scroll through all your notifications.
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You can optionally receive all these notifications as push notifications to your desktop browser or Android device. Simply allow the site to send you notifications through your browser when it asks permission.

Don’t worry about missing a reply — you’ll be emailed any notifications that arrive when you are away.

If you want, you can get notified about other things happening on the site as well, either at the category or topic level.

b. Topic notifications

You can change your notification level for any individual topic via the notification control at the bottom of each topic:
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or at the end of the timeline on the right of the topic, if the topic is long:
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c. Category notifications

Notification level can also be set per category. To change any of these defaults, see your user preferences, or visit the category page, and use the notification control above the topic list, on the right side:
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d. Tag notifications

Notification level can even be set per tag. To change any of these defaults, go to your user Preferences > Notifications > Tags:
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Section 8 - Trust Levels

FREESOFF offers five user trust levels. Your current trust level is visible on your user page, and a summary of all trust levels within our community is presented on your dashboard.

Trust Level 0 - New

This is the default level for all new users

Users at trust level 0 cannot…

  • Send personal messages to other users
  • “Reply as new topic” via Link button (UI removed)
  • Flag posts
  • Post more than 1 image
  • Post any attachments
  • Post more than 2 hyperlinks in a post
  • Have actual links in the ‘about me’ field of their profile (will be silently and temporarily converted to plain text)
  • Mention more than 2 users in a post
  • Post more than 3 topics
  • Post more than 10 replies
  • Edit their own posts after more than 24 hours

Trust Level 1 - Basic

Get to trust level 1 by…

  • Entering at least 5 topics
  • Reading at least 30 posts
  • Spend a total of 10 minutes reading posts

Users at trust level 1 can…

  • Use all core forum functions; all new user restrictions are removed
  • Send PMs
  • Upload images and attachments
  • Edit wiki posts
  • Flag posts
  • Mute other users

Trust Level 2 - Member

Get to trust level 2 by…

  • Visiting at least 15 days, not sequentially
  • Casting at least 1 like
  • Receiving at least 1 like
  • Replying to at least 3 different topics
  • Entering at least 20 topics
  • Reading at least 100 posts
  • Spend a total of 60 minutes reading posts

Users at trust level 2 can…

  • Use the “Invite others to this topic” button for one-click onboarding of new users to participate in topics
  • Invite outside users to PMs making a group PM
  • Daily like, edit, and flag limits increased by 1.5×
  • Ignore other users
  • Edit their own posts for up to 30 days after posting

Trust Level 3 - Regular

To get to trust level 3, in the last 100 days…

  • Must have visited at least 50% of days
  • Must have replied to at least 10 different non-PM topics
  • Of topics created in the last 100 days, must have viewed 25% (capped at 500)
  • Of posts created in the last 100 days, must have read 25% (capped at 20k)
  • Must have received 20 likes, and given 30 likes.*
  • Must not have received more than 5 spam or offensive flags (with unique posts and unique users for each, confirmed by a moderator)
  • Must not have been suspended or silenced in the last 6 months

*These likes must be across a minimum number of different users (1/5 the number), across a minimum number of different days (1/4 the number). Likes cannot be from PMs.

PN: Unlike other trust levels, you can lose trust level 3 status. If you dip below these requirements in the last 100 days, you will be demoted back to Member.

Users at trust level 3 can…

  • Recategorize and rename topics
  • Access a secure category only visible to users at trust level 3 and higher
  • Have all their links followed (we remove automatic nofollow)
  • TL3 spam flags cast on TL0 user posts immediately hide the post
  • TL3 flags cast on TL0 user posts in sufficient diversity will auto-silence the user and hide all their posts
  • Make their own posts wiki (that is, editable by any TL1+ users)
  • Daily like, edit, and flag limits increased by 2×

Trust Level 4 - Leader

Get to trust level 4 by…

  • Manual promotion by staff only

Users at trust level 4 can…

  • Edit all posts
  • Pin/unpin topic
  • Close topics
  • Archive topics
  • Make topics unlisted
  • Split and merge topics
  • Reset topic bump date
  • Daily like, edit, and flag limits increased by 3×
  • Any TL4 flag cast on any post immediately takes effect and hides the target post
  • Can send personal messages to an email address

PN: All progressions through levels are updated via PM

Section 9 - Additional Documentation

a. Rules and Guidelines

A helpful resource that contains clearly defined rules on what is allowed and not allowed on the forums.
Here you will also find guidelines pertaining to general posting information, creating requests and even requirements for the sale of products.

b. Frequently Asked Questions

Our FAQ is a collection of most commonly asked questions on the forums.
Why can I not see my post, What do I do if a download link has expired, why can I not use udemy coupons; You can the answers to these questions (and much more) in the FAQ.

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