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FAQs and How-Tos

edited April 2008 in Vanilla 1.0 Help
I am writing a basic outline structure-type How-To for my users. I took what Mark had written for the user accounts information (with a few simplifications and modifications), however - I am wondering if anyone has written up anything for the rest of the forum for your users. Such as, how to post a comment, how to set up email notifications, that sort of thing. Or, if anyone would be interested in accessing one when I finish writing it up.


  • I suppose a how-to tooltip kind of extension might be quite useful?
  • I'm working with people that can barely use their email, let alone a message board system such as Vanilla. So, I'm trying to incorporate a how-to that they can read when they have issues, before hopping on the phone and calling us. Or, it would also allow our staff to be able to go to the FAQ and walk them through the issues if they'd rather call.
  • edited October 2006
    I have the same concern with my teaching forum. I'm using the Announcement extension right now until I can think of a better, or additional, solution. With new users who don't use the computer a lot, I think the pop up announcement should help.

    I would be interested in what you write up.
  • Very interested. My teams/communities resemble yours. Hard to believe they are doctors, professors, entrepreneurs and just generally smarter than me. Why don't they love mucking through complex technology as its own reward?
  • I just did a google to look for existing forum help guides. Have you looked at others? The playstation forum guide looks pretty complete. I think the real concern is not the how-to's we could write, but rather the presentation to the user. Would we want a "help" button? Yes, but that doesn't guarantee anyone will use it. Would we like to have something pop up for new visitors to the forum? Yes, that would be a help, but we would need a way for the visitor to cacnel out of that.

    If the visitor wants to register, then this should automatically lead the new user to the how-to guide. Maybe asking hime to browse through each topic and track this? Maybe this would be good for some, but not for others.

    Maybe the best thing would be to create a how-to tutorial like Mark did for Vanilla.
  • I should have said I have an idea I am mocking up for this too - not to steal garvin's thunder. If he does the unofficial/offical FAQ, cool!

    This will not just be for my communities but for open access. I did tech transfer/training/doc for too many years until I semi-retired ;-). As with everything Vanilla, may a thousand flowers bloom.

    I plan to have something to show within a week. In other words, two weeks.

    Hey, I learned something from those years. No, not three weeks - two weeks. Well ...
  • Well, I was planning on doing one just because it was needed for my community. However, if it is a general necessity for more than just myself, I'd rather this community write it together. We know how everything works, and because this is a community, I'd rather work as a community writing the How-To. That's why I was asking if people were writing already. If you have something started, let's bring it forward and we can all contribute to it.
  • Sorry if I sounded enigmatic.

    Something collaborative would certainly be advisable if it also proves useful for the needs of specific communities. I'd brainstom my own idea more except that it is just a wee bit too squishy at the moment. But the reason I mentioned something was precisely to be encouraging.

    Add-on's benefit the community even when some offer overlapping features. My guess is that there will probably be several overlapping documentation efforts over time. Though counter-intuitive, I have found that delivering documentation is harder than coding (e.g. doing doc/training that is judged useful by a wide audience). So, it seems like one semi-official effort makes logical sense, but multiple efforts from different angles seem to help users more. It's easy to cross-link between doc sets.

    Anyway, I sure wouldn't wait on me. You have a business requirement which needs to be met in any case. If you think I could help (even just by reading what you draft), whisper. Or shout ;-).

    And, of course, if someone wants to lead a formal community effort, cool. I suspect it's a bit premature, but I'm a noobie here. A few experiments first might be wise, imho.
  • This is definitely something that I would be interested in, one or two of the forums that I've set up are geared towards people who have never even seen an online forum and struggle with even the most basic of tasks. I had to spend two hours "training" a moderator, showing her how to authorize users and edit posts.... Because of this, I've started a basic "Guide to using this forum", it's very short and sweet at the moment, I didn't want to freak people out too much, but I'd love to consolidate what we all have and put it up online for people to share. Where would be the best place to do this?
  • I'll post what I have started at some point today.
  • I'm willing to contribute whatever I can to the group effort....if anyone is still interested in moving forward with it.
  • Does anyone have anything they would like reviewed?
  • Sorry. I posted this thinking I would have time. Silly me - not realizing getting married that weekend was going to cause issues.

    Its far from complete, but this is what I have. Its using some different verbage, since we are using it for a Project/Client Manager/Help Desk.

    Troubleshooting: Vanilla 1. Accounts a. Changing Personal Information b. Changing Password c. Password Retrieval d. Changing Forum Preferences 2. Discussions a. Leaving Comments b. BBCode c. Attachments i. Attachment Restrictions d. Notification e. Spell Check 1. Accounts Under the “Account” tab, you should have a number of options available in your control panel. a. Changing your personal information The personal information form is just that: a place where you can define personal information about yourself. Along with some standard information like your name and email address, we also allow you to specify the location of an icon and a profile picture such as a company logo or a photo of yourself. If you do not have images for these fields, just leave them blank. Finally, at the bottom of the form, we have a set of inputs where you can enter just about anything about yourself. The idea is to create a bunch of label / values like Birthday and September 16, or Contact Number and (444) 444-4444. This way you can define information that might come in useful for us later in our relationship. (And, this information is only shared with you and our staff. (To Top) b. Changing your password The Change Password form allows you to do just that - change your password. Also, if you forget your password, you can reset it by clicking on the “Forgot your password?” link on the sign-in page. You will be prompted to enter your username. Password reset instructions will then be emailed to the email address associated with that username. Using this form DOES NOT change your password. If you are the owner of that email address, you will receive an automated message from the application that will contain a link back to the server where you can change your password. c. Password Retrieval If you forget your password, you can reset it by clicking on the “Forgot your password?” link on the sign-in page. You will be prompted to enter your username. Password reset instructions will then be emailed to the email address associated with that username. Using this form DOES NOT change your password. If you are the owner of that email address, you will receive an automated message from the application that will contain a link back to the server where you can change your password. Please note that some email programs try to auto-link hyperlinks that they find in email messages. Sometimes these programs mess up the links, and this can cause our password retrieval system to break. So, please be sure to copy and paste the entire link from your password retrieval email message into your web browser. (To Top) d. Updating your forum preferences The Forum Preferences form allows you to define how Vanilla functions for you. Any changes made on this form take place immediately (depending on internet speed), and you do NOT need to press a save button. When you make a change on this form, a status message should appear on your screen to notify you when the changes have been completed. (To Top) 2. Discussions Discussions refer to the communication between you and your staff with our staff. Whether you are in the design phase and leaving feedback on your demos, or you have a site and need updates made, or you have a problem with your email - there is a conversation ready for you. When you log in, you will be taken to your specific discussion area. That area, depending on the specific stage of the process you are on, will include different discussions. For new clients, you will see a discussion labeled, "Designs for Approval." There, you can see your designs, make changes, give feedback and see your company's online presence take form. You can also attach files so that we can start collecting content for all of your pages. After we have the content laid out and placed on the site, we can start maintaining it. A new section will be available to you titled, "Work Orders." There, we can discuss different changes that you need made to your site, from content updates, to graphic treatments, or even new page creations, it can all be handled through this system. There is also a troubleshooting discussion where you can talk one on one with our technical department to fix email issues, to learn your stats program, or even to ask questions about Vanilla. (To Top) a. Leaving Comments "Leaving Comments" refers to the process of communicating with us. Its like writing an email. We've built this collaborative system to resemble a online message board, so if you are familiar with that type of technology, it should come pretty easily to you. When you go into your discussion(s), you can read our comments or view your demos, and type into the text area, much like an email, leaving your feedback, instructions, and requests. To reach your comment area once you are inside of a discussion, scroll to the bottom. There will be "Leave A Comment" written in bold type. There is a text box below that. Write your feedback, requests, instructions or questions, and we will respond. (To Top) b. BBCode Vanilla has a built-in Rich Text Editor. This allows you to format your comments, much like you would in Microsoft Word or Open Office Writer. Under the text box for your comments there are two radio buttons. By default, "Text" is automatically selected. However, if you select "BBCode." BBCode is an abbreviation for Bulletin Board Code, the markup language used to format posts in many message boards systems. The available tags are usually indicated by rectangular brackets surrounding a keyword (such as [b]bold[/b]). Currently with the built-in BBCode system, you can bold, italicize, underline, strikethrough, align, insert HTML code, change your text color and font, insert a picture, insert a list, insert a blockquote, sub/superscript, insert a hyperlink or an email link. So, if you don't feel like attaching a word document, but you want to format your comments to feel like it was created in Word, you can do so using BBCode. (To Top) c. Attachments Another great feature on Vanilla is the ability to attach your content directly to the discussion. If you have content already created, such as brochures or menus, or have taken the initiative to provide word-for-word how you'd like your site content to look and feel, you can attach your word doc, pdf or power point presentation. Or, if you'd like to have photos of your staff, products or facility on your site and have them available on your computer, you can attach your jpegs, gifs, bmps and tifs. If you have a specific font you are using for your logo, feel free to attach it as well. Or, put all of your content and resources into a compressed folder and upload your .zip, .7z or .rar. i. Attachment Restrictions There are only a few restrictions when uploading files. File size must be below 6mb. However, it can be any file type. There should be nothing blocking your upload as long as it fits our file size requirement. Unless you are using Safari. There is a known issue with the Safari Web Browser in OS9 and OSX. If you are using a mac, we suggest using Firefox. If you encounter any other issues when uploading a file, please either post those concerns in your discussion area, or send us an email. Or, if you have a file or a set of files that are over the 6mb limit, please burn them to a CD and send them to our offices. (To Top) d. Email Notification We don't expect you to live on Vanilla. A lot of us have a business to run and responsibilities to attend to. Instead of constantly coming onto the system to see if we have left you a comment, you can set up a notification so that it will automatically email you anytime there is a new post for you to read. To do this, when you log in and are reading your discussion, in the sidepanel, there is a link that says "Subscribe to Discussion." Anytime there is a new post, you will be emailed. Before you set this up, please refer to the Personal Information section to make sure your email is correct. (To Top) e. Spell Check An essential part of our service is accuracy. We want your content to be right each and everytime. So, in a measure to uphold that credibility, we have included a spell checking feature in the comment area so you can make sure what you post in your comments are spelled correctly. Just click "Check Spelling" and it will check your comments for any mistakes. You can also change the language of the check if you wish to have multi-lingual content. (To Top)
  • Congratulations!!!!!!

    I'll look over what you have. I guess that each forum will have specific instructions and how-to's depending upon what each forum is all about. Some things will be Vanilla-specific and some things will be usage/content-specific.
  • edited October 2006
    I've made this for a few people i know about Vanilla theming basics. If you see anything wrong with it don't be afraid to point out anything and if anyone wants to use this in the collection of data, please feel free to.

    The Simple Vanilla Template Information Guide This guide will show an overview of how Vanilla's ( template system works. In Vanilla there are two levels of the template system: the Theme and the Style. Basically, a Style consists of a couple of style sheets and all the images needed for use within the style sheet all in one folder. This will change the general look of the whole site in proportion to the colours, images shown and the positioning (NOT the layout) of the whole site. Any Style that is used is put inside the 'styles' folder, with other themes if provided, which is inside the main theme folder. A Theme is something that echos out where all the coding elements of each page and what the general layout is going to be. They are the things that use the Styles by placing the css tags into the site, and the particular Style that is being used formats that to what the Style specifies. In each particular page there can be multiple sections used, which are made by the current Theme. These are set up in 2 major formats, the Main format and the People format. What the current page consists of is specified by what the current viewed page is. These sections are: • Header - this is the header information that doesn't get seen by the human eye, but is included in both the Main and People formats • Menu - This is the section at the top where the site name/logos are generally placed, as well as the tabs • Panel - This is the thing on the side where current page options are placed, such as extensions and the 'Start a new discussion' link • Content - This is were all the main content is placed and this is also divided into multiple sections • ----Discussions - The links to the main discussions • ----Comments - The comments that are made in the discussions • ----Search - The search function • ----Account - Account details for particular users • ----Settings - The global settings such as extension enabling and user role configurations are done here. Only people that have sufficient role permissions may view/use this page. • People - This is were people log in, log out, register and anything of that sort of nature. It has it's own style sheet in the current Style
  • did this addon go dead? cuz it seemed like a really cool addon
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