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Food for thought - forum etiquette

422422 Developer MVP
edited September 2013 in Tutorials
Just me venting off, and sharing some common forum etiquette
Guys, please treat people on forums the way that you would like to be treated. Getting all hot under the collar, and at times misreading peoples posts doesn't help.

When posting a question, you are not obliged to get a response within minutes, take into account:
1. timezones
2. think about your question before asking and explore all avenues on the forums with regard to researching your answer.
3. allow other members time to cross examine and question your question, 75% of the time we never ask the right question, we just tend to ask it in a way we understand. This doesn't mean others will read it in this manner.
4. allow other members time to reply with coherent answers, or further questions to ascertain what you are trying to achieve or what the exact issue is.
5. always put the version of vanilla you are running, and how it is hosted. Self hosted , embed or vanilla hosted.
6. try and list the plugins you have installed.

Do's and Don'ts
1. don't get all fed up and frustrated with repliers to your questions.
2. consider refining your question if you are not getting the answers you really think are helpful, and be prepared to show screenshots of issues , post code and or report issues.
3. do read all vanilla documentation prior to asking a question, if its a plugin related issue.. then disable the plugin initially.. and search the forums and addons sections for similar issues and fixes.

Always .. work on your own theme.
I cannot stress this enough, create your own theme folder even if it is a copy of default and you don't change anything, and work on the files within that custom folder.
Always test test test, log in log out, refresh f5 whatever you have to do. To break it, that is the best way to make these issues appear.
Use firebug to isolate client side issues, and highlight the problems.. as most issues are easily solved.

Don't fall out with other members , they could be your life blood in solving your issue or advising you on best practice and remedies to problems you may be encountering.

Threads and Posts.

Always title your post as descriptively as possible. Ensure you provide as much information about the problem, as you can even giving steps that LED to the problem in the first case.
DO NOT , try to belittle other members or insult them. It isn't big and it certainly isn't clever, we are all here for the same reasons, and that is to use this product in this best way that suits us.

Custom Themes.
There is little or no point in asking for copies of premium themes, or can I get a copy of this that or other. Be creative and make your own, forums very rarely become popular based on design .. they evolve by content, and the community dictates more often than not the way a forum is shaped and formed. This then can lead to better design .. thus making your site more adaptive to your user base.

So form follows function !

Try to mention users, when making posts. using the @username widget. That user gets notified in their User Control Panel that they have been mentioned, and then can follow up on threads they may not have bookmarked.

If you fix something, consider explaining what you did and how you did it. Others will benefit from your answers, and you will feel good about yourself. Kudos is earned !


Don't compare vanilla wantonly with other forum software, it is its own entity, and whilst some features may lack in Vanilla the fact is it cannot totally emulate features within other systems. At its core, it is user friendly, dive right it and be up and running within minutes.. no other forum has that degree of flexibility.

Vanilla for me means , white label. I can download deploy and meddle with it to my hearts content, and if I stuff it up its my fault. But it is extremely easy to work with, and get at its core components.

Never underestimate the complexity of simplicity. As any UI UX developer will tell you, the art of simple is complicated. Vanilla is just that, it is developed to work right out of the box, in a very simplistic manner. To achieve this isn't so easy !

Remember you get what you pay for, .. an analogy of which.

Years ago I put an old car we had on our property with a sign, Free to Good Home.

Not one person showed any interest whatsoever. So six weeks later, I changed the sign to For Sale As is $500.00
I sold it within 3 days.
The point is this, Vanilla is free. But don't for one minute reflect its price on its VALUE !

Anyhoo, that's my bit said.

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  • There's a lot of people I've encountered on this forum and other forum software forums that really need to read this. Thanks for writing it up :)
  • amen

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  • Deserves a place into Documentation.
  • 422422 Developer MVP

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  • 422422 Developer MVP
    Thanks @x00

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  • blizeHblizeH ✭✭
    edited December 2011

    It's fair enough to ask that people don't make requests for themes etc, but when the first thing you see on the Vanilla homepage is a screenshot from something that (I'm sorry to say) looks far nicer than the default theme, or the theme used on this forum, you can't really blame them.

    Not having a go at your Vanilla designers by the way, Vanilla is by far the nicest looking forum out of the box and it's user interface is absolutely unrivaled, but that Penny Arcade theme? God damn that's nice.

    (edit) just browsing it again now, god damn I want that theme :(

  • 422422 Developer MVP

    Perhaps some designers on ere are thinkin the same and doing summat about it! :)

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  • Wait up, you're a designer right?! ;-)

  • 422422 Developer MVP

    I am, but i know someone else who is looking at doing similar theme

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  • Oh, superb! I'll look out for it, thank you :)

  • LincLinc Detroit Admin

    @blizeH Within 48 hours of switching to Vanilla, one of my members created a Linux-terminal theme (green ASCII on black) for my site using purely CSS additions and posted it on UserStyles.org. I see 17 customized views in the Penny Arcade theme, so while it's definitely one of our more complex themes, it's still far simpler than any other forum's system. I don't think having it displayed purely as an example of what's possible is unreasonable. If we packaged every sweet idea that someone thought was way better than the default - well, you wouldn't like the download size. :P

  • i cant understand this one

  • 422422 Developer MVP

    Cristina said:
    i cant understand this one

    What dont you understand ?

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  • edited December 2011

    Very nice post @422, well said

  • @422 Great post! Commendable. Can every member be MADE to read this somehow? ;) I'd also like to establish some etiquette for answering questions. The answer I keep getting over and over is (in a nutshell) "figure it out yourself" and that's certainly not why anyone would come here and post a question in the first place; we have better things to do than get trolled.

  • @422 Nice! Spoken like a true gent.

  • ToddTodd Chief Product Officer Vanilla Staff

    @dudieboy, there's a problem where we probably need to have a way of qualifying people that ask questions here. Take for instance this hypothetical question:

    How do I sort posts by first name?

    If that question is being asked by a programmer then my answer should be something like this:

    You'll have to write a plugin. Here's the event you can look at...

    If that question is being asked by a business then my answer should be something like this:

    Vanilla doesn't do that by default. We can help you find a programmer for you if you are willing to pay for their time.

    If that question is being asked by a novice then my answer should be something like this:

    Vanilla doesn't sort posts by first name.

    This is type of context is never given in the question and then people that ask questions are left wondering why we are so grumpy sometimes :/

  • hbfhbf wiki guy? MVP

    @dudieboy i hope most of the "figure it out yourself" comments are prefaced with some indication as to where to look. I also hope that you see them as such.

    To me this a forum for asking advice and getting pointed in the right direction more than it is a place to get an exact answer. This stems from the fact that many things we ask for haven't necessarily been done before, so getting an exact answer would require someone to actually develop the solution for you: something i believe no one expects for free.

  • There should be a way to identify the right people to direct your questions to, so it's not a time consuming process for the people who are new here. Possibly develop a list of subjects that any of the qualified users can opt-in to placed on and the user can just start a thread directly by using @hey-you, I have this issue or this problem and now they will save time and Vanilla.org will be considered a better place for that.

    By the way, if the forum admin can create a developer for hire list for those wanting to have a way to identify those developers who actually do the work requested. This page should be a paid for by the developer since it is a way to be displayed by the forum. The developer should have to show his ability to the ADMIN and then follow a guideline for ethical business practices.

    It's very easy for a poser to troll a forum and commit fraud on an unsuspecting good intended user.

    Any developer who has the talent should by all means profit by it...

    I hope this input can be taken seriously, as a businessman I want to feel safe when dealing with anyone online. Trust is very important.

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