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Noobie Vanilla Glossary

edited November 2006 in Vanilla 1.0 Help
(LAST UPDATE: Nov. 7, 10:00 PM PST)

This glossary might be helpful for some noobies to your forums, like Mom or Dr. Tom. You may steal it. I've got enough of the terms ready to post a bunch; more in a day or two in the empty slots. Please correct flat-out errors; suggest improvements to phrasing; propose other terms that would benefit from some explanation.

Vanilla Glossary

(Note: this document explains features available in the core version of Vanilla. Your forum may also integrate add-ons. Ask questions about them by starting a discussion on the main Vanilla community forum).

You can display and edit your own user profile under the Account page tab. This page also allows you to change your forum preferences, choose other display styles, etc. Your user profile is visible to other members of your forum. All other aspects of your account are visible online only to the forum administrator and yourself.

Vanilla add-ons offer new extensions, themes, styles or languages to the Vanilla core. These are usually developed by Vanilla community members. You may follow the Vanilla Add-ons link at the main Vanilla community forum to find a current list of add-ons.

Each forum has at least one administrator. They have super-rights (permissions) to approve new members, assign user roles, inspect every comment in a forum (including whispers), edit comments, delete discussions, etc. (An administrator may share some of their rights with other members.)

Until a user's application for membership to a forum has been approved by an administrator, they are assigned automatically to the role of applicant.

Block Comment
This link prevents HTML codes included by a user within their comment from executing (e.g., creating a desired effect). The raw HTML code is displayed instead. Other text for that comment remains readable online.

Block User
This link prevents HTML codes included by a user within their comment from executing (e.g., creating a desired effect) in all comments across the forum. The raw HTML code is displayed instead. This can block unsuitable or misbehaving HTML code (graphics, videos, etc). Non-HTML text created by this user remain readable.

You may bookmark an opened discussion at any time. A Bookmark label is attached to the title of the discussion in the discussion list for convenient reference.

Each discussion must be assigned to a category when first started. Vanilla comes with a few default categories. Administrators may create new categories or delete existing categories. A deleted category must have a replacement category. Comments from the deleted category are moved automatically to the replacement category.

Closed Discussions
An administrator can end discussions. No further comments can be added to a closed discussion, unless an administrator gives that right to a specific user role. A closed discussion is flagged by the label 'Closed' in the main discussion list. Closed discussions can be read normally or re-opened for more comments by an administrator.

Each entry posted by a user - to start a discussion or reply within a discussion - is termed a 'comment'.

Core Version
Vanilla was designed with clean separation between its features as first installed (core features) and those which may be added by administrators (add-ons). Most add-ons integrate seamlessly, without announcing their presence.

Each discussion contains a date-sequenced series of comments on a single topic. Comments are displayed beginning with the most recent one published. Members may start a discussion with the 'Start a new discussion' link. Other forum software often refers to a discussion as a 'thread' or 'topic'.

Extensions integrate specific features not included within the core of Vanilla. They are installed by the forum administrator. Examples include support for multiple roles, discussion filters, file attachments, integration of video and many more.

Each Vanilla installation (site) is termed a forum. A forum can support a very large number (thousands) of discussions. Forums are structured by categories and discussions within each category.

By default, only registered users (members) are permitted to view a forum or post comments to it. An administrator can allow guests to view some or all of the discussions on a forum.

HTML (hypertext markup language)
Text and graphics displayed on the Web include formatting codes for italics, underlines and other visual effects. Vanilla provides formatting options which relieve you from entering these codes directly. However, members may use HTML codes within their comments for Vanilla to execute in support of more complex page content. Raw HTML code may also be made visible optionally within comments to share with other users.

Developers can flexibly modify language files to support forum users in their language group. Languages are installed as an add-on.

Applicants who have been approved for membership in a forum by an administrator are reassigned from the Applicant role to the role of Member. Forum users are often referred to as forum members.

Each forum user is assigned to a unique role by its administrator. Your role defines the 'permissions' you have been given to carry out various functions. For instance, you might be given permission to delete discussions ... or not; to make a discussion sticky ... or not. Contact your administrator with any specific questions.

You may search for discussions and comments by the discussion title (topic) or the text within the comments of discussions under the Search page tab. Enter one or more keywords to narrow the search. Search results are displayed as a list with a link to the discussion found. You may also search by 'users' (member names). These searches lead to a member's user profile.

Sign In/Sign Out
By default, all Vanilla forums are private to members. As a member, you must sign-in each time you visit a forum. You will probably only need to sign-out if you are using a computer in a public space shared with other users.

Sink Discussions
Discussions are listed, by default, with the most recently updated discussions at the top of the page. Some forum roles may be assigned the right to 'sink' a discussion. A sinked discussion can be updated with new comments, but updates will not return the discussion to the top of the page. Instead, the discussion will 'sink' (display lower on the page) over time as other non-sinked discussions are updated.

Sticky Discussions
An administrator can define a discussion as 'sticky'. Sticky discussions are always displayed at the top of the Discussions page. Stickiness can be switched on-or-off as needed.

Vanilla styles define the size, font type, color and other details that form the look-and-feel of your forum. Each style is associated with a specific theme. More than one style can be associated with the same theme. In that case, you may alter the look of your forum by choosing a different stylesheet under the Account tab.

Vanilla themes define the structure within which a particular look-and-feel (style) will be assigned. The structure includes the number, type and positions of the elements which compose Vanilla pages. A single theme may be support many styles. If multiple themes are installed, you will be able to swap the structure of your forum by choosing a different theme.

User Profile
Your profile contains personal information about yourself - your username, when you became a member, the number of your contributions to the forum, etc. This is visible to other forum users. You may optionally allow your email account to be public.

An administrator may give you the right to post a comment to one or more users that is visible only to you, them (and, for management purposes, the administrator). This supports 'private messaging' that would not otherwise be germane to the discussion participants. An entire discussion can be given a whisper status, hiding it from all readers except those named when the whisper is activated.


  • edited November 2006
    Add-on's (shouldnt have an apostrophe, i dont think) An add-on is anything that adds something extra to the vanilla core (see Core Version). It can be an 'Extension', 'Theme', 'Style', or 'Language'. Block xxx --may be worth somehow noting that it doesnt so much 'hide' html text more it just doesnt render it (you can see the html they used but it has no effect). Not sure how you put that in simple terms... Discussion ....Other forum software often refers to a discussion as a 'thread' or 'topic'. Extensions Extensions (sometimes referred to as add-ons) integrate specific features not included within the core of Vanilla. They are installed by the forum administrator. A current list of extensions is available from a 'Vanilla Add-ons' link at the main Vanilla community forum. --probably worth providing an actual link for the sake of it Guests -- probably worth adding in something about anyone who isnt a member is a guest (basic i know but thats what this is here for right?) HTML -- definition seems kinda messy but i dont have any suggestions for changing it. Besides (and this doesnt help a great deal) ..provides formatting options (through an extension)... Permalinks -- are an extension. Just to note... A good start, though. I could probably think up a couple more anal changes but it's generally a step in the right direction. No prizes for guessing I've not had the best night out...
  •  Quote: Minisweeper  Add-on's (shouldnt have an apostrophe, i dont think)
    As President of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to the Apostrophe I am able to confirm this with authority. pic
  • this glossary should be added to the wiki. if mark would let access to it :) I tried and it denies me.
  • I have access. May aswell wait till it's complete though...
  • edited November 2006
    @minisweeper - integrated all your suggestions in various forms. Added guests and bookmarks as terms. Revised definition of HTML. Eliminated permalink; don't want extensions in this basic list.

    My idea is to create 'x' number of glossary items for critical extensions so that a forum administrator can integrate the relevant ones into a single doc for their forum. Sticky topic or page tab, etc. This matches nicely to the way add-ons themselves integrate. To a noobie, an add-on is just part of Vanilla - but having glossary items for stuff that isn't in 'their' Vanilla is confusing.

    If this is put into the wiki, I could label add-on glossary items by their extension. Forum administrators could then choose whether to use my elegant solution or not ;-).

    To all -

    I'm really conceiving the glossary as one component of several pieces of documentation for my users. I'm still working through my thoughts on the best way of packaging and delivering that to them - which will exert impact on the content. The medium is the message and all that.

    Hoping for more corrections, suggestions, needed terms for definition of the core, etc. What haven't I explained so that Mom could understand? I mean - your intelligent end-users who are not forum-hardened?

    I'm not happy with the definitions of styles and themes. Not right yet. I don't have a crisp sense of the continuity and discontinuities between them because I have let them be black-box to me so far as a user.
  • a chart of vanilla code will be nice.
    just like the chart for prototype
    it would be only for extension developers though.

    btw anyone knows how to make uml charts for php code. I have looked and found uml for java only.
  • edited November 2006
    the definitions itself should use words that the user can understand. u should use the complicated stuff like multiple roles when ur explaining extensions. use simple examples like display pictures etc. extensions adds..... compared to extension integrates.......
  • This is a great thread. I think it would definitely help those who are trying to build a FAQ-type guide.
  • edited November 2006
    @MySchizoBuddy - excellent point and one I am conscious of, though it is hard to achieve. ideally, I would even substitute entirely non-technical words for technical concepts where they aren't vital to avoid creating even more confusion long-term.

    For instance, because the word 'add-ons' has to be used commonly at this level of a glossary, I am reluctant to use the great, simple, common word 'adds' too often or stuff becomes a blur of add/add-ons. I don't even like words like 'integrate', 'supports', 'enables' etc because they have almost become hand-waving tech-word noise these days.

    I'll see if I can support your added idea here about word choices without having to integrate it too extensively.

    I might also want to add some graphics where useful (expandable thumbnails).

    Doc and shortcuts for developers definitely desirable but I'm focusing my few personal minutes on barrier-lowering stuff for my users at this point. We don't seem to suffer from lack of smart developers or extensions ...

    ... except one, an extension that allows user to choose how many characters of a comment(s) to display in discussion and other lists; especially those in the starting comment of a discussion. Begging ;-).

    @garvin - I'm glad; your user-needs were a parallel motivation for me. If this gets tested in use for them, it would be neat to scrub this at some point based on their reactions. Feel free to integrate a glossary in a discussion there at any point when timely. No need for credit to me; claim as your own ;-).
  • I too have a particular interest in a glossary of terms (perhaps a PDF available on request) but a more user-facing help system based on frequently asked questions is currently more worthy of space on the actual forum.

    I am building it up as newbie users ask questions.
  • @Wanderer - that is superb, great stuff. Sure, glossaries are merely supplementary.

    Um, I thought PDF was for neanderthals. It wasn't you who tweaked me mercilessly about that elsewhere was it? Evil twin ;-).
  • Touche!

    But there are those users who "want to know more" and this sort of stuff is hardly info that is constantly changing so it is easily placed in a handy file, easy to maintain and compact to download.

    The newbie on the other hand, would more likely browse a short list of relevant topics than bother downloading a PDF
  • Unfortunately, you need to provide as many ways as you can think of for your users as they have different learning styles.

    Wanderer: I really like that help link.
  • Thanks, it's designed to be brief and to the point.
    Now if you have any ideas as to how to encourage people to use it before asking me the same questions over and over? pic
  • Well, what we need is a knowledge base that would be searched automatically when someone types a question to the forum admin. Instead of sending you the question, it would search the knowledge base and take them to your FAQ topic(s).
  • That's a bit of an overkill I think, what if it's not an FAQ type question?
  • Make it intelligent, somehow. Or just say 'is this what you were looking for? <yes, thanks> <no, post my question you stupid forum>'
  • ...and while you're at it get me this week's lotto numbers and a white coffee with two sugars.
  • MarkMark Vanilla Staff
    Yeah - mini - if you want to add this to the wiki, please feel free to do so and link it from the homepage.
  • edited November 2006
    @Wanderer: I meant to ask you, how do your users ask you questions? Via contact form or email of discussion or all of these? I run into questions from my students and they usually come from every direction. I really do like the way you have presented help on your forum.
This discussion has been closed.